ICC Must Act To Protect The Spirit Of Cricket

“It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team were involved with cheating.” It might have shocked you Mr Turnbull, but only the brazenness of Australia’s cheating surprised the rest of the world. The fabled spirit of cricket has been under attack for some time, and Australia have been one of nations leading the assault. Not that the Aussie public realised this before now.

South Africa’s subsequent 322 run victory over Australia the following day will barely be a footnote to the events at Newlands, and the shadow of Smith’s admissions will stretch far further than the shadow of Table Mountain.

The Sydney Herald labelled this as a “bumper series” and it certainly has been – although I’m not sure dressing room altercations, on-field shoulder barges and complaints of crowd abuse were what the paper had in mind. Things were getting out of control even before Mr Bancroft reached for the yellow tape.

Despite a heavy defeat on Sunday, Australia can still salvage a result from this series on paper. Their reputation off it, however, will take years to rebuild. The assessment of the team as a “laughing stock” by Adam Gilchrist – whose fellow ex-teammates seem genuinely outraged – will be supported around the world.

The reaction to this scandal has been so emotional – with the likes of Jim Maxwell and CA CEO James Sutherland close to tears at various stages – because this ball tampering controversy is unlike any we’ve seen before. It was premeditated by the team’s “leadership group” (more on them later) and put upon a junior player to carry out the dirty deed. What’s more, when the Australian dressing room realised they’d been rumbled, the 12th man was sent on to try and cover up the evidence. Bancroft then lied to the umpires about the contents of his trousers.

In the post-match press conference, Steve Smith completely failed to recognise the gravity of the situation. He thought he could just apologise and move on. All these things point to a more deep-rooted problem with the Australian team which, let’s be honest, is far from the most loved side in world cricket. They position themselves as moral arbiters but have turned out to be one of the worst offenders. Remember David Warner’s words following the du Plessis’ episode with mints in Hobart in 2016? He said he would be “very disappointed if one of our team members did that”. It turns out they’ve done something worse.

There is some suggestion that the Australian team have been driven in some way to commit this crime because this tour has been bad blooded. True, their time in South Africa has been far from comfortable, with coach Darren Lehman citing the “disgraceful” treatment that his players from the home crowds. Australian cricket journalist Adam Collins has claimed that it’s hard to divorce previous controversies with Saturday’s events at Newlands.

However, the Australian players can surely have few complaints given their own fans’ previous “interactions” with visiting teams. Lehman can sit alongside Warner in the chicken roost department when he remembers calls on the Australian public before the 2013/14 Ashes to “give it to him [Stuart Broad] right from the word go for the whole summer” and that he hoped Broad would cry and go home. When asked about events during England’s first test against New Zealand, Broad left little to interpretation when saying that “from the outside, it looks like Australia have started a lot of fights and then are moaning when someone comes back.”

The immediate question is where does Australian cricket go from here? Quite simply, Steve Smith and David Warner should be stripped of the captaincy and vice-Captaincy respectively. They should receive a lengthy ban – 6 months or more – and a fine. It remains to be seen which other individuals from Smith’s “leadership group” were involved and he has deliberately muddied the waters by not naming names. It may indeed take some time for the blame to be truly apportioned, although alibies might be hastily composed in the meantime.

The bigger question is where the so-called “spirit of cricket” is left in all of this? Unfortunately, the yellow tape affair is not the first time a cricketer has attempted to alter a cricket ball and it will certainly not be the last. Smith’s apology stirred memories of Atherton’s “Aladdin’s Lamp treatment” in 1994 and Inzuman-ul-Haq’s vilification of Darrel Hair in 2006 (although we should remember that Inzie was cleared of ball tampering following his team’s historic forfeit).

The current incident is different for the reasons highlighted above. The outpouring of emotion from the likes of Turnball, Sutherland and others is because they thought Australian sport was above such things. The sad truth is that ball tampering is nothing new and Australians have probably done it in the past. Other players have done it; some have been caught and many have not. Regardless of what happens to Messrs. Smith and co. not all Australian and international players will be dissuaded. If you asked the cricketers who have dabbled in such things, they would often not be sorry for what they have done; they would be sorry because they got caught.

Much like diving in football, ball tampering in cricket is an act that all players know to be illegal and punishable but until the punishments meted out become harsher, it will continue to happen. However, unlike diving, ball tampering can come in many different forms; we have seen as much over the years. Players continue to come up with multiple methods – even going so far as chomping on the red (or white) cherry, as Shahid Afridi famously did during a one-day international in 2010. Bancroft’s yellow tape is yet another different approach. And we wonder how much truth there is in reports that David Warner adds sandpaper to the strapping on his thumb. Stamping which, interestingly enough, he doesn’t wear when he bats.

The “spirit of cricket” is an ideology of playing the sport the right way. It’s founded upon two cornerstones: the utmost respect to the match officials and the self-regulation of the laws of the game by the players themselves. The responsibility for both falls on the shoulders of the players and unfortunately both seem to be continually disregarded in modern cricket.

How often have we seen batsmen walking off the field after a contentious umpiring decision, muttering the words that seem to be “for goodness sake” to themselves? Ball tampering is part of the self-regulation category, alongside walking and claiming catches fairly. The problem is that whereas disputed catches and nicks to the keeper can usually be sorted out by DRS, ball-tampering is a very different matter. What’s more, it takes place during gaps in play. It is an underhand choice by the fielding side.

If the ICC is serious about upholding the “spirit of cricket”, it needs to be practical. By that, I mean they get serious about cheating and also take measures to punish players proportionately according to their particular transgressions. Is it right that Smith has only been banned for one match by the ICC for cheating whereas Kasigo Rabada initially received a two match ban for celebrating a wicket too vociferously? The ICC needs to be pragmatic, of course, but although international sport is not for the faint hearted they must do more to make the game seem competitive but essentially clean and honourable.

The truth about what was really said in the Australian dressing room is yet to be revealed, and it may take weeks to piece the whole sequence of events together. What can be said with certainty at this stage, however, is that the team’s reputation lies in tatters and they will probably need a new captain in the next few days. I just hope that cricket itself hasn’t been tarnished too severely. Perhaps the punishment handed out by the Cricket Australia will be more of a deterrent, and do more to uphold the spirit of cricket, than the ICC’s inadequate response to cheating now and in the past.

Mark Cohen



  • Well, yes in future. The ICC’s hands are tied on the current transgression. I can’t see how Lehmann can continue. Either he was part of the “leadership group”, and knew what was going on (which the covert walkie talkie messages to Handscomb would suggest) or he should have known. My best guess is that Smith will get a year’s suspension from cricket, and Warner probably should too. Bancroft (“Australia’s Amir”) will get 6 months.

    • So Cricket Australia will hand down a punishment vastly more severe than any other national board or the ICC would be willing to for the same offence. In other words, the sanction will be totally disproportionate to previous punishments for ball tampering.

      Will you at least concede the obvious double standard?

      • I think it’s the fact they took an external object on to the field with the specific intention of altering the condition of the ball, along with the utterly deceitful way they tried to cover up what they’d been doing when challenged by the umpires, that differentiates this case from previous.

        That said, I agree the reaction this time seems disproportionate .For me, sacking Lehmann and stripping Smith and Warner of their leadership responsibilities would be enough. A year ban seems draconian and I can see lawyers getting involved if that happens. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Law gives the penalty for ball tampering as just 5 runs. That tells you something about how seriously (or not) this is viewed by the lawmakers. You can argue that this is inadequate (I certainly would) but lengthy bans to me are a step too far.

        • And this distinction is the difference between a 12-month ban and 3 demerit points? I don’t think so. You simply cannot have that kind of gap in penalties for the same offence.

          The argument that “one kind of ball tampering gets a slap on the wrist but another kind gets you banned for a year” is insane. There has to be some measure of consistency.

          Maybe James can refresh my memory – did you guys publish an impassioned call for the ICC to crack down on ball tampering when Faf Du Plessis got busted for the second time? Or did you wait until Australians were on the hook to support 12-month bans?

          The double standard could not be more obvious.

          • I think what de Plessis did with his zipper was terrible and much worse than what he did with the sweet. I would have banned him for longer than one game too.

            If I ran this site full time, rather than trying to squeeze it in between freelance gigs, I would have definitely covered the Faf story in more detail. However, this is a much bigger incident with far more levels.

            Please drop the ‘everyone’s against Australia’ fallacy Tom. It’s getting old and it’s in no way accurate. Your fervent anti-English stance on pretty much everything doesn’t mean we share the same anti-Australian sentiment.

            • What do you mean? I thought it was well-documented that everyone despises the Australian cricket team – including a fair chunk of the Australian public. It’s now a fallacy to state this?

              I am merely pointing out the double standard, which is undeniable.

              You think the Australians should be punished with 12-month bans when no other players have received anywhere near that for ball tampering. Do you not see this as problematic?

              It is the very definition of a double standard.

              • Tom what you’re constantly missing is that what Smith / Warner / Lehmann did is worse than any previous ball tampering case. That’s why the punishments will be more severe. This is not a double standard. It’s the punishment fitting the crime. If you don’t accept this is incident is worse then we really aren’t going to agree on anything beyond this.

              • You may have (first James back). If you read my comment on Smith and Bancroft, it was a prediction (accurate on Smith, too lenient on Bancroft). I did advocate a similar punishment for Warner as Smith got (which happened). CA insists Lehmann is innocent, and we have to accept that. Tom, I think it’s worth bearing in mind that these bans were imposed by CA, not the ICC, and appear to reflect what I understand to be widespread revulsion from the Australian cricket public.

      • Given that two different bodies were imposing the sanctions, ‘double standard’ isn’t correct – but that quibble aside, I’d acknowledge the discrepancy… as does, apparently the ICC:

        While it may well be that the full story hasn’t come out, the rapid actions of the Australian board can for now only be commended (I suspect the English authorities would have taken weeks rather than days…).

    • Not far off in your estimations there fella! Seems like suitable punishments have been given out. I think CA have handled the situation pretty well, although the backing of the coach may bite them on the arse in the (near) future.

  • In the words of AC/DC these are Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.
    As the rewards have risen standards of fair play have simultaneously decreased.
    When not walking became acceptable we were only heading in one direction.
    I’m very pleased that we couldn’t have higher profile cheats than these chumps.

  • “If the ICC is serious about upholding the “spirit of cricket”, it needs to be practical”.

    It needs to start off by applying it to itself.

    • Not a chance. Dirty money, sex scandals and an ability to insert their heads up their rear ends which can only mean that Donald Trump is a perfect role model for an ICC bigwig (another Trump comparator).

  • It seems to be a modern symptom across many sports now. Athletics, Tennis, cycling, cricket etc. Win at all costs regardless of the ethics or spirit of the game. What do you define as cheating? Taking banned substances for “medical” reasons, performance enhancing substances, deliberate fouling, throwing games, dodgy betting on T20 IPL games etc?
    Only way to reduce it is by very severe penalties. A symptom of modern society.

      • I don’t think it is unreasonable to argue that a win at all cost attitude conflates a number of different issues including ball tampering and doping. (not so much match fixing as, from a players perspective, that is about money not winning). However, if your point is that ball tampering, doping and match fixing are not crimes of equal severity then I agree. I’m curious – do you think the local media and fans would have reacted so strongly if Warner had been found guilty of doping rather than ball tampering?

        • My point is that ball tampering, doping and match fixing are not crimes of equal severity and therefore should not be punished equally.

          To your question, it depends what kind of doping. It’s hard to imagine a cricketer getting busted for that – there’s no real history of it. If he was taking caffeine tablets or something and it turned out they were actually banned, I doubt people would be calling for a lifetime ban.

          Warne got busted for taking a diuretic and everyone just thought he was an idiot who was probably trying to mask cocaine in his system. No one seriously concluded that he was reliant on performance-enhancing drugs. The reaction this week has been far more severe than it was to Warne’s “doping”.

          • There have been doping scandals in cricket but they have been for recreational drugs. The Warwickshire side had a real coke problem in the 1990s (exposed in Paul Smith’s book) which seemed to continue as Keith Piper and Graham Wagg were banned in 2005.

    • It is not remotely a modern phenomenon. Cheating has been around since the start of sport and just changes over time. WG umpired himself, England played known chuckers for years in the 1880/90s. And in other sports, doping in athletics goes back to the Greeks and was well established by the time the Olympics started – they just used different drugs and there were no tests. Nothing to do with modern society.

      • Quite agree. ‘Play up play up and play the game’ is folklore from Tom Brown. Cricket started life as one of the most corrupt sports in history, renowned for its betting scandals and loutish behaviour, and was frowned upon by the church in the same way as ‘The Demon Drink’.
        In recent decades the laws of the game have been fighting a constant battle with behaviour on and off the field, both in the professional and amateur games.
        It is no justification for the present Aussie debacle, but provides perspective. Hopefully the stupid brazenness of Smith and co. will force more concerted action and we can get back to talking about the sport we love for the right reasons.

  • The latest rumour is that David Warner was very much the ring leader on this, and it looks increasingly likely that he’s going to be the scapegoat. This article on Cricinfo (ignore the silly headline comparing him to KP) says he’s likely to be sacked and may not play test cricket again. Apparently the board and his teammates are fed up with him.


    In terms of the punishments, I would ban Smith for 5 tests or 3 months. If it was 6 months I wouldn’t complain too much. However, all this talk of life bans is well over the top in my opinion. The ICC doesn’t do enough to discourage ball tampering, so this kind of thing was bound to happen – which is one of the points Mark was trying to make in the above article.

    I think it would be a real shame if Smith was lost to the game over this. Yes he should be punished but his career shouldn’t be taken away from him. The fans would suffer too. World cricket needs its best players imho.

    • It does sound like Warner has lost his marbles and will carry the can, if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor.

    • If the miscreants, whatever they’re called, serve any ban, then surely it should be at least partially retrospective? If they hadn’t been caught in South African, nobody would know about the ball-tampering yet; there’s apparently a cloud over other recent matches involving these players, and it wouldn’t be fair on the opposition, whoever that was, if they’ve unknowingly suffered something similar.

      (And if it turns out that this genuinely was the first time, then having a retrospective ban is simply part of the punishment for the transgressors. It’s kind-of arbitrary which matches they end up missing, so a handful of the most-recent matches is no worse than any others.)

      How about the transgressors’ runs scored and wickets taken are removed from — plucking a reasonable number out of thin air — the 8 most recent test matches they’ve played. Then somebody could go back and recalculate the scores in those matches without those players. I haven’t looked up the matches in question or seen if it would make a significant difference, but whatever they are then the adjusted scores could be recorded as the official results of those matches.

      [No? Oh, well. It was worth a try …]

      • A retrospective action is a great idea. Australia can claim the 05 Ashes as the ball tampering perpetrators have confessed in that instance.

  • The ICC obviously have to change the laws. Anybody who admits planned cheating has to be banned from cricket for life. I hope every time any member of this Australian cheating, oops I mean cricket, team take the field then the crowd reminds them that they are cheats and should leave.

      • Or Marcus Trescothick, who admitted (in his autobiography!) doing the same as Du Plessis in the 2005 Ashes, and is still playing.

    • Should we remind Anderson and Broad of the same, following their 2010 tampering episode where they were let off but roundly condemned by the likes of Willis who knew full well what they were up to?

  • I don’t think the game would miss Smith. He is ok on a fast bouncy track but anywhere where the ball seams or spins the he is just crap and just as bad as anybody else. I can’t see what all the fuss is about.

  • The Australian cricket team spoke about a leadership group. Isn’t James Sutherland the chief ring leader of Cricket Australia and is ultimately responsible ? Isn’t he the guy who sanctioned the hiring of these cheats. He has to go surely.

    • Yes likely the plot to put a bit of yellow tape in Cameron Bancrofts trousers was massive long planned conspiracy with plottters stretching all the way through the Australian government to the prime minister and quite possibly it may turn out even sanctioned by the queen only time will tell but the daily mail will get to tha bottom of it soon.

  • “Discipline, consistency of behaviour and accountability for performance are all key ingredients that need to improve. And we see that the head coach is ultimately responsible for that”.

    Bit of a problem for James Sutherland that he said that when he sacked Mickey Arthur….

  • What I find distasteful in this post is the ‘spirit of cricket’ nonsense. There is more sportsmanship and self discipline shown regularly in other sports, notably Boxing, Golf and Snooker especially, where players often declare their own fouls that a referee has missed. ‘ Walking’ has long since become a rarity at the top level, as has the ‘no bouncers at tail-Enders’ code. Cricket has introduced laws to stop this intimidation as the players were not policing it themselves. This has been going on for decades now. The idea of the amateur ‘gentleman’ has passed into folklore.
    Mr ‘No walk’ Broad’s unhelpful unfounded sanctimonies casting aspersions on the Aussie’s Ashes conduct should also be charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

    • Yes it’s obviously ironic that Broad got up Australia’s nose by behaving like us. Now he’s also hypocritically casting aspersions which is also what Australia is accused of.

      He did say he learned a lot playing club cricket out here.

  • Utter humbug. This particular practice (in various forms) has gone on since time immemorial. Trying to distinguish this case from that of Atherton, who also deliberately planned and took onto the field a pocketful of dirt, is crass hypocrisy. And anyone who is elderly (or has seen the old films) knows that post war cricketers wore more hair gel than Boris Johnson on a tv appearance – just for use in shining the ball, And to somehow suggest that this is a dreadful blow at the spirit of cricket is to ignore 150 years of worse, perhaps starting with WG’s deliberate intimidation of umpires and the blatant throwing of various late 19C bowlers (only stamped on when an Oz touring team brought a chucker). Give Smith, Warner and Bancroft a reasonable penalty but do not drive them out of test cricket. This is not in any way similar to the match fixing scandals (or the various cricket sex scandals in Asia and swept under the table by the ICC). Get a sense of proportion.
    Oh, and Malcolm Turnbull pontificating is the most revolting sight I have seen in years. A man who cannot see a crippled child without kicking it and whose record of pre-planning episodes involving his colleagues is legendary.

  • 1) I don’t believe for one minute that Lehmann is innocent.
    2) I don’t derive any pleasure from Australia being in this mess – my view would be the same no matter which country was involved.
    3) The ‘spirit of cricket’ may be redundant but there’s no reason why it should be. Just because W G Grace was a bloated old cheat doesn’t mean that we should accept cheating today in any way, shape or form.
    4) When I’m sitting in the stands I expect to see games played within the Laws.
    5) Malcolm Turnbull and other politicians can go and do one.

    • Somewhat bizarrely, if the game had been being played within the Laws, then under Law Australia would have been penalised 5 runs, and that would have been the end of it.

    • No one is suggesting that it is not cheating, that we should accept it because it happened in the past or that the players should not be penalised. The issue is that it is being presented as different to the past and that the penalties should be draconian and out of proportion to past penalties. That is hypocritical and offensive. This is a serious matter, but not remotely as serious as the various match fixing scandals and minor next to the sex scandals which have been largely covered up in Indian and Pakistani cricket.

      One other apposite comparison is the new laws being introduced. The card rules mean you can threaten an opponent with physical harm and only be sent off the field for a number of overs. Is a physical threat not more serious?

      • Agreed. How does the penalty handed to Faf Du Plessis look compared to 12-month bans for Smith and Warner? Does South Africa think their man did nothing wrong?

        • Didn’t Sought Africa appeal the decision and Faf is still trying to argue that ball shining is different from ball tampering.

          Also, they lied at the press conference as it was sand paper (as many people thought) and not tape. It’s a bit illogical but it makes it seem so much worse. It also raises the question of just when they dreamed this plan up. Players carry tape. How many these days carry sand paper?

          • Look at these fine distinctions about how some ball tampering being worse than others. You’re right on one count: it is illogical.

            One guy illegally alters the state of the ball and gets a slap on the wrist.

            Another guy also illegally alters the state of the ball and gets banned for 12 months, along with his captain. But OMG they told fibs at the press conference!

            You have to really tie yourself in knots to claim there is no double standard here.

        • I had been under the misapprehension that Faf has been twice guilty of ball tampering, but according to cricinfo it’s three times. Once with the zipper, once with his nails and once with the mints.

          Nothing premeditated of course just gets random compulsions to cheat on the field. Good captain material.

          • actually I was right the first time it was Phillander who got done for using his nails. So definitely nothing organised going on in the SA team.,

  • Smith and Warner gone for a year, 9 months for Bancroft.

    Applies to all elite cricket.
    Some grade teams will be getting a boost next summer.

  • 12 month bans for Warner and Smith. Totally disproportionate in my view, but should mean we don’t see that again from the Australians at least. Is that the unpleasant odour of lawyers circling I smell? It’s going to cost Smith and Warner millions…

    Gutted they didn’t tour SA before the Ashes…we might have scraped a draw :)

    • I trust that they will now go to court. The disproportionate nature of the penalties in comparison with past similar offences (and more serious matters) makes it essential that players defend themselves legally to prevent future arbitrary penalties being imposed.

      • I agree well within their rights to sue. So totally disproportionate with anything else previously. I don’t think they will. would be terminal for there long time playing future.

        Remember the on field penalty for ball tampering is the same as the ball hitting a helmet on the field. Or bowling a wide ball down leg side.

        • I’ll be amazed if they don’t sue. And if the act of suing affects their future careers, they’ll sue again over that.

          • And they need to get a stay of the current penalties until any legal action is completed. Bear in mind that the penalty imposed not only affects them playing but will also cost Warner and Smith in excess of $1m each from the IPL. If it is not possible to get CAS to issue a stay they should go to Oz courts. It was established (in german courts) that sportsmen have a right to use local courts over CAS if they had the CAS route imposed on them by governing bodies.

            • Yep, CA has screwed this up seriously. This one’s going to run and run. It needn’t have.

  • There are a great many waiting in line for Warner (and possibly Smith) to slip up. Perhaps this is behind the vitriol?

    Michael Vaughan in particular, who might be indirectly broadcasting the current England players’ views…

    Anyway, it’s hard to imagine such a charged widespread response if this was perpetrated by pretty much any other cricketer in world cricket.

    At least Cricket Australia have acted decisively, it’s to imagine ECB moving as clearly and swiftly.

    • I can understand people disliking Warner but isn’t Smith a pretty benign character?

      Maybe people just dislike Australian cricketers.

      People hated Clarke (many Australians included). And there were plenty who couldn’t stomach Ponting either.

      • I suspect most cricket fans are saddened that Smith and Bancroft were involved. But a scandal like this involving Warner – that’s a wet dream for a lot of cricket fans.

          • Since when are people logical? There are, as you say, a lot of double standards here.

            • I don’t think it’s necessarily Smith per se, it’s just as the captain he’s always going to be associated with and to a large extent responsible for, the culture and public perception of the team.

            • I try to be logical when making a case. Don’t you?

              At least you acknowledge the jarring double standard.

              • Logical? I’m practically a Vulcan. However, in my experience, most sports fans are anything but logical.

      • I seriously rate Smith as a batsman – and was a fan of both Clarke & Ponting. Granted I was also a massive fan of Chris Cairns …. :(

        12 months is excessive – 1 match for the tampering is fine. And a little more from CA for lying in the press conference is understandable. I’m fully expecting a reduction on appeal.

        I also hope some Aussie journos ask Faf some awkward questions about punishments for inappropriate zipper use during the 2nd test.

    • Vaughan is a renowned hypocrite. Trescothick made it absolutely clear in his autobiography that the use of mints to alter the ball in the 2005 Ashes (the offence for which Du Plessis was later penalised) was preplanned and common knowledge in the team – which was captained by…..now, who was it? …….oh yes, Michael Vaughan.

        • What quite clearly comes out of all this is the need for some clarity in the rules, and appropriate punishments for transgressions (you’ve made this point on several occasions). John Holder (the former test umpire) says he reported an England player to the ECB in the early 90’s and was removed from the test panel for doing so, and that, in an India v Pakistan test he umpired (1991?) both sides were at it. The Australian players have set a new standard for the ball tampering being premeditated, brazen and stupid. Maybe strong punishments will discourage others.

  • CA’s reaction is so ham-fisted it could have come straight out of the bowels of the ECB. It manages to be too harsh and too leniant at the same time.

    Twelve months for Smith and Warner is OTT. Has room been deliberately left for a reduction on appeal/in hindsight? Six months seems about right to me. As for the position that no-one else had a Scooby, pull the other one…. the bowlers and the senior coaches?…. Really?….

    Meanwhile, we’re all sentenced to a lifetime of increased Australian sanctimony. “See, we took it seriously, we banned our captain, unlike you lot, see, see!”. Heaven help us….

    • Like I’ve been saying, there is a double standard.

      Australian cricketers get a 12-month ban.

      How did South Africa punish Du Plessis?

      • I think the ICC have been consistent, it’s CA who have dished out the lengthy punishment.

        The only inconsistency here is that SA are clearly more lenient on their own.

        • Good point about the cricket boards but is there a double standard in the way the fans and media have reacted? I don’t remember fans and media being this outraged about Faf. Is “shining” a ball with sand paper worse than “shining a ball with a mint? (I really want to say no but using sand paper is doing my head in).

          Some interesting comments from Tino Best on his twitter feed.

          • Yes agreed. I think poor Mr Warner had rubbed a good few too many people up the wrong way and they’re rather enjoying his demise a little too much.

            • Including his own teammates, it appears. No love for Warner from the Aussie team, and Marcus North was suggesting he might give up international cricket, and become a T20 mercenary.

      • The incredible millstone burden of Captaincy is what Faf bears for three time ball tampering. Really if Warner was South African he would have been declared captain for life by now.

  • It will be interesting to see how the franchises deal with this. The corporate mentality usually gets very high minded about continuing to use disgraced public figures in its advertising, so I would expect Smith and Warner to be shunned by both IPL and Big Bash. However, both must be well heeled enough to think twice about courts of appeal. If they front up and take their punishments I’m sure they’ll be back in the fold before long, they being world class cricketers the Aussies can ill afford to do without, as I’m sure the ensuing months will confirm.

    • Smith will be publicly rehabilitated pretty quickly. But it’s a long way back for Warner. He’ll be the lightning rod.

    • Warner has been involved in his fair share of incidents and openly taunted the ACB during the pay dispute. I’m not sure that they want him back.

      • BBC Radio 5Live had Marcus North on last night. North said Warner is barely on speaking terms with the rest of the Australian team, and might well give up international cricket and become a T20 mercenary.

  • I have just been reading ‘Fire in Babylon’ by Simon Lister, the book which followed the excellent film about the rise of the great Windies side. When the Windies cricket board misbehaved (trying to sack players like Deryck Murray for representing the players) their other stars made it clear that they would go as well (including Lloyd who momentarily resigned as captain). It is time for the other star Oz players, especially the quickies who must have been in on it, to send the same message to the Australian Cricket Board. If players allow their collegues to be subject to arbitrary and draconian sanctions they are sending a message that a bunch of suits with their snouts in the trough are above due process. Time for Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood, Lyons and the others to stand up and be counted – including those recently retired but still revered like Johnson and Ponting.

    • It will be really interesting to see how both ex and current players react to the penalties. A couple of local journo’s are adamant that the bowlers want Warner gone but I agree with you, it is hard to believe the bowlers didn’t know something was going on. I look forward to Warner giving a press conference.

  • According to the BBC …
    “Australian cricket commentator Jim Maxwell told BBC Radio 5 live his understanding was that after lunch, Smith saw Bancroft and Warner in “collusion”.

    Maxwell said Smith had said to the pair: “What are you blokes doing? I don’t want to know what you’re doing”, before then going out onto the field.”

    Which is a handy way of getting the rest of the team off …

  • Mmm. Well many have the view that penalties have been needed to be beefed up for sometime. Unfortunately the top man carries the can, in this case Smith and Warner. Harsh, maybe, but it will make others think first. The great shame is that we are losing 2 of the world’s best batsman, Warner maybe permanently. Can’t believe that the coach and bowlers were not aware of the situation though.

      • There is a case for life bans from cricket………life bans for administrators who cannot apply the rules with consistency.

      • James Sutherland has just said the bans are not for tampering, but for “Damaging the game”.

        So by implication, if a Saffa, a Pom or a Pakistani engages in low-level cheating it’s no real surprise, just business as usual. But a lying, cheating Aussie on the other hand is apparently incredibly surprising & the end of the world.

  • “The spirit of cricket” could be protected by banning the phrases “spirit of cricket”, “mother cricket” or “Australian cricket family” for as long as that Zimbabwean cricket official recently.

  • While I still think the ban is excessive, it’s pretty clear from the charge sheet that the punishment is as much for the cover-up as for the tampering itself, especially the claim that it was “tape”. Everyone who knows anything about woodwork (not me…) seemed to know exactly what type of grit sandpaper tape is yellow in Oz, and the fact they had it in the dressing room suggests this was totally premeditated and more likely than not that it wasn’t the first time. I still think stripping the leadership roles and a low number of matches banned would have been proportionate though, rather than denying the guys their entire livelihood for a year, and I still think CA will be hearing from the players’ lawyers as a result.

    • I’ve already said this above, so apologies for repetition.

      James Sutherland has said today that the bans are not for tampering, but for “Damaging the game”.

      So by implication, if a Saffa, a Pom or a Pakistani engages in low-level cheating it’s no real surprise, just business as usual. But a lying, cheating Aussie on the other hand is apparently incredibly surprising & the end of the world. And to think, back in the day people who lied & cheated were sent to that end of the world… ;)

      The ICC-issued bans were proportionate to the initial offense.

      CA are right to do something about the lying in the press conference

      But the extent they’ve gone to is excessive (even allowing for other incidents in the series being tacked on)

      • So, given that Atherton lied in 1994 by claiming he took a pocketful of dirt to dry his hands (perish the thought that it was for anything else guv), he should have been charged with and found guilty of ‘damaging the game’. The inconsistency remains and every time the clown from the ACB opens his mouth he just jams his foot further into it.

        • What clown, James Sutherland? Not sure how you can call him that, what has he done to warrant that? There is no inconsistency, just different era’s, the laws have changed, wordings have changed.
          What ban did WG Grace get, the greatest cheat test cricket has ever known, what did he get? Nuthin’, different era, different wordings.

          • The inconsistency lies in the handling of many similar cases over several years. There was the Du Plessis case only 2-3 years ago. The Anderson/Broad case in 2010 (where they deliberately trampled the ball and were not even charged despite the damning views of senior members of the bowlers union like Willis). The Trescothick case of 2005, to which he plead guilty in his autobiography and where he made it obvious that the ‘leadership team’ was fully involved. And, of course, Atherton – who has had the bare faced effrontery to criticise the players in The Australian (and been called out loudly even by those who support the ACB). These are not different era’s/different rules.

            My strong suspicion is that Sutherland’s action has more to do with his humiliation in the pay dispute than the facts of this case.

            • I think you will find that ball tampering is the red herring in this case – in fact better still, ignore the BT, Sutherland flew over to put an end to the arrogant bullshit that the team had developed. He did. He got rid of the main perpetrator, Warner.

          • Doug; I assume you are Australian from your posts. I have to admit to feeling I have fallen into an alternate universe as a Pom defending the rights (although not behaviour) of Australian cricketers whilst they are assailed by their own countrymen. :)

            • Australians love a lynch mob.

              There will now probably be a backlash against the harshness of the penalty, which the mob spent five days angrily demanding.

  • It has been a tough week seeing my cricket world crumble. Things are starting to settle down a bit now and I see where we are all looking at this. Ball tampering was the easy bit. The cricket world has been wanting Australia to fall for a while now, whatever those varied reasons are. When they did, the world pounced, quite rightly to be fair. From an Australian perspective, they fooled ourselves into thinking that they play this particular “brand” and they would never cross “that line”. I bought into it, as did millions of Australian cricket fans and I even defended it at times, here on this very site. Warner moved the “line”. It became uglier but he produced on the pitch so Australians bought in thinking it was ok. The cricket world was calling Australians arrogant and unsportsmanlike, but they were winning and playing tough in your face cricket. Warner sold it, the players bought it, management excepted it and fans went with it. The ugly “line” had to be smeared at some point and the fans were starting to get unhappy, they wanted change. All the shitty events in SA had broken the bond between the team and the fans – Warner’s line had to go.
    The ball tampering is a small issue, so small that the ICC deemed it a Level 2, a nothing. We all saw this as the morsel we had been wanting for in a long time, something to crack open this toxic venom that formed the Australian cricket team. Warner has been given a year ban, which is neither here nor there as he will never play for Australia again. Smith’s case is sad as he is generally seen as a decent person, with the misfortune of having Warner next to him as VC and dressing room powerbroker. He will be back, in fact I think they will possibly cut that 12mth ban in time. Bancroft will be fine, he was cajoled by a bully, his opening partner, a senior player he really had no choice but to stand attention to. He will be back, in fact welcomed back, he is liked.

    For me there are three people who are extremely lucky, for now at least, to be still in SA – Lehman, Lyon and Starc. I’d be surprised if Lehman doesn’t resign after this tour, only because he has been there for quite some time, doesn’t need all this crap and it all happened on his watch. Lyon and Starc should be sent home as well, not because of ball tampering, even if they knew about it (and frankly who cares), but because they are part of the toxic crew of Warner, part of the ugly pack dog mentality that Warner poisoned the squad with. A match ban for those twats will wake them up.

    James Sunderland went over to deal with, first and foremost, the ball tampering affair, but also to breakdown the bad vibe the squad was giving out, the arrogance, all the bullshit He did this subtly, you may of picked up on it, with Warner been given a year ban, it meant – no international or domestic cricket, “to be encouraged” to play club cricket and also to do 100 hours of community service. And here is the kicker – he has been told he will have no further leadership role in the future. That’s a slam dunk, shutdown, goodnight Irene, end of your career son moment.

    I’ll leave you with this Freudian theory – “criminals from a sense of guilt” – Steve Smith wanted to get caught.

    • An interesting theory to end a great post.

      Warner is indeed a twat. Starc and Lyon are similarly dislike-able but haven’t quite got to Davey’s (as Mark Nicholas refers to him just after sucking him off) level yet.

      • What has Starc done to warrant dislike?

        Are you sure some of this isn’t just a kneejerk antipathy toward Australian cricketers?

        • Yes find it hard to see why Starc was on this list, can see Lyon could get up your nose and yes some poor behaviour on this tour but nothing that extraordinary by world cricket standards.

          • I don’t get the dislike for either Starc or Lyon.

            OTOH I don’t get why many Aussie fans despise Kohli either

            I loved Warne as a cricketer, hate his fake little laugh on commentary

            Graeme Swann OTOH is a complete and utter prat.

          • Ok, Starc probably doesn’t deserve to be on the list. Maybe he just looks like an arrogant twat. And no, people shouldn’t get a ban for being a twat – as has been pointed out, England would be struggling to get a team. Actually, that might work in our favour.
            CA worked very quickly to try to restore its battered reputation. I think the bans are harsh, particularly for Smith and Bancroft. However, at least they have done something that is decisive. God knows what the ECB would have done.

        • If banned players for being twats, there wouldn’t be too many playing the game! So for those that actually believed that was what I meant, let clarify – Lyon and Starc are part of the ugly culture of Australian cricket, they are senior and Warner’s henchman.
          This whole saga about ball tampering is a folly, it’s about the ugly team culture Australia has become. It needed to be broken up and the toxic circus that comes with Warner, needed to be derailed.
          Starc snarling and barking at batters most balls and Lyon’s over blown ego add to the circus. Starc just should bowl and leave the bullshit aside, Lyon should become more humble and respectful of the opposition. Both good bowlers, but sadly fell into the toxic Warner wagon.
          See for yourselves – you will all recall Starc during the Ashes, having a go at each batsman most balls, couldn’t shut up. He was the same in the first few tests in SA. Let’s see tomorrow how he is now all the shit is taken away.

    • So now it is acceptable for authorities to convene kangaroo courts and hand out excessive penalties for being twats? Accepting this interesting theory inevitably leads to the question of what suspension Anderson and Broad should be serving for their role in poisoning the England squad (along with Prior and Swann)? Perhaps some will say their role in despatching Pietersen is a balancing of the scales (and I have no great love for Kev), but the principle remains, and remember that they did not just end Pietersen’s career (with his considerable help) but also made Bell’s role untenable when he supported Pietersen.

      There remains a stench about the handling of this affair which has nothing to do with justice or due process. The behaviour required a penalty, but the action taken is disproportionate and the suspicion must be, as you suggest, that it has nothing to do with the offence but rather the ACB seeking to exercise it’s authority. If you are right, and this is the case, the other members of the team will be letting their colleagues down unless they emulate the great Windies team of the late 70’s who told their board that they would down tools unless Deryck Murray was reinstated to the team (after being sacked for representing the players).

      • Absolutely. Hard to find a bigger twat than Swann.

        He did once get let off a drink driving charge on the basis that he needed to rescue his cat though. Takes some doing.

      • No one will be going into bat for Warner. But Smith has been shafted.

        That footage of him being hustled through the airport like a criminal (Poms will say that’s appropriate for a convict), cements my view that this has got out of hand.

        Cricket Australia felt the pressure from the Australian public and has been sucked into hanging their captain out to dry.

          • This has now become a touchstone for the ACA and the other members of the Australian test squad. Either they say enough is enough and defend their colleagues (and I include Warner – unsubstantiated stories about relative blame are worthless) against draconian and disproportionate penalties or they will be forever remembered as the team that sold out their skipper. Either they force the ACB to back down (and sack Sutherland who has been in his role for 16 years and as CEO must take the blame if there is a cultural issue) or they should tell the ACB to pick a bunch of club players for the next series.

        • The photo’s were bad enough but the press conference was heart-breaking. One report quoted Warner as saying that he won’t speak publically again until he has had legal advice.

          Remind me again, how many people did they kill?

  • So Lehmann says NZ are the model for how to behave.

    That the same NZ Lehmann-coached Australia treated so contemptuously in the 2015 WC Final?

  • Interesting callfrom the great Michael Holding:


    “There have been much worse incidents in cricket but I think it was handled poorly by all those concerned.

    “There should never have been a press conference. What you do is put out a statement admitting culpability but not subjecting yourself to all the questions.

    “All this ‘hard and fair’ thing is absolutely rubbish.

    “You should have yellow and red cards in cricket too. The first time you sledge you get a yellow card. You repeat the offence, get a red card, and leave the team.

    “What we used to do was shine the ball and after a while it would stop swinging in the direction it was intended to. “Those days we didn’t have cameramen focusing on the ball the way it’s done now.”

    • Michael Holding is the cricket equivalent of Michael Johnson on athletics; a rare sane and intelligent commentator amongst a group of colleagues who can rarely string two words together in the right order and whose entire media careers are based on collective achievement which does not add up to one season of Michael Holding.

  • Is this the same Mark Cohen who we used to know as the ‘Gobby Keeper’? He got it right: gave his team-mates the stick they deserved and the encouragement they needed. Not a word to the batsmen, except to his old teachers!


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