Should English Counties Sign Smith, Bancroft, and Warner?

So then. What do you reckon? The Evening Standard has suggested that Cricket Australia has quietly reached out to several English counties about the possibility of signing their three disgraced stars. The details are sketchy, and there’s no guarantee it will happen, but it seems there have been discussions behind the scenes.

I’d be interested to know what everyone thinks of this news. It’s a classic case of whether you put your club’s interests first or those of the game in general. I have to admit that the prospect of Smith returning to New Road this summer, a move which would raise our chances of staying in division one significantly, is certainly appealing. However, I’d also feel slightly sick if my club did something so brazenly self-interested.

Although I feel the punishments dished out to the three cheats was somewhat harsh – I would have banned them for five to seven tests myself – I couldn’t agree with Worcestershire (or any other county) signing these disgraced stars. Firstly it wouldn’t be a good look. They’ve had their IPL deals cancelled so why should an English county step in to give them meaningful employment? I’m not sure about you, but a world in which IPL franchises have higher moral standards than traditional English counties is not one I want to contemplate.

Secondly, and most importantly, the bans given to Smith, Bancroft and Warner were so long because Cricket Australia wanted the punishment to be a deterrent. This deterrent would be completely undermined if they had some time away from the limelight whilst still enjoying a healthy income courtesy of a desperate English county. It just doesn’t sit well with me. If Eric Cantona had been loaned out to Inter Milan while serving his ban for kung-fu kicking a mouthy Crystal Palace fan then it would have completely defeated the object of the ban.

However, despite my objections, I perfectly understand why others might feel differently to me. Perhaps you’re one of them? If so please feel free to challenge my view in the comments below. I promise I won’t come round and rough you up … with sandpaper or anything else.

James Morgan

2018-04-06T15:43:17+00:00April 6th, 2018|Talking Points|42 Comments


  1. Comte April 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    On Worcester’s Fans Forum I’ve already said that we should not sign Smith. End of.

  2. Leonard April 6, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    It seems Somerset have publicly come out against keeping Bancroft. I find it difficult to believe that Cricket australia would want the one year ban to be a deterrant then actively court the possibility of these 3 miscreants playing County Cricket. Does not compute in this limited brain capacity.

    If surrey sign Warner I will resign my membership. the man is an (adjective of your own choice) cheat and I do not want my team having anything to do with him.


  3. Andy April 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    I think the argument might be a superfluous one anyway. Hampshire have signed Hashim Amla with Dale Steyn on his way and I would imagine most counties would also have secured their overseas players by now given the first matches are next Friday.

  4. Tate April 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    I’d let Lancs sign Warner. And then just utilise him as a water boy.

  5. JackieL April 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Certainly not. There has just come out a very strong statement from James Sutherland of Cricket Australia so it is hard to imagine that talks are going on behind the scenes with their reps. More likely the agents of the players themselves? Sutherland talks about an independent review into the game to restore pride in Australian cricket. Also they want to institute a Player Charter. Sounds a really good idea if we are going to get out of the sleezy atmosphere of semi-approval of cheating from certain quarters. I hope the players don’t think English Counties will be an easy option.

  6. Doug M April 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    In short no. Otherwise it makes a mockery of the ban, and won’t sit well with County Members.
    A year won’t kill them, the Aussie main series is India at home this winter, otherwise not much.

  7. Doug April 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Not sure that CA is parading the players around, where is that written? I did read that they would not stop them playing overseas if they wished (UK being a potential) as the ban is for Australia and Sheffield Shield only. They have been “encouraged” to go back to their clubs and play, which the season does not start until September from memory.
    No different from the ECB allowing Stokes to go to NZ for a few games, his crime being far more heinous than what Warner and Bancroft did. I maintain Smith was not part of it, just had knowledge, did nothing as he wanted to be caught.
    You cannot stop someone from earning a living, the ICC handed down their punishment, one match ban for Smith, no ban for Warner and Bancroft. They moved on.
    If the Counties were smart, they would snap up Smith or Bancroft, they cannot afford not to, in particular Smith who will bring bums on seats. And if it was your County, and they were scoring loads of runs, the team is successful and they were contributing to the junior coaching programs, I doubt very much one would complain. I have actually invited Steve Smith to come and play for my club in Wiltshire, so I guess I’m the first in the UK to stick my neck out!
    Let’s get off our judgemental high horses and show some humanity, gosh they only ball tampered, not bash someone or told the bowler “they came to see me bat, not you bowl!”.

    • Doug M April 6, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      “Only ball tampered”. Isn’t that enough. They got caught, and it’s about time a decent penalty was given. I don’t think a year is that severe. Stokes behaviour was bad, if it’s true, but it didn’t involve planned cheating on the pitch. As for earning a living these are are guys are worth a packet. They obviously can’t take their punishment because they keep blubbering. Doesn’t get my sympathy.

      • Doug April 6, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

        Atherton did alright out of it.
        I ask a question, would you of signed WG Grace, the greatest cheat in test cricket history?

  8. Shane April 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I hope they do get contracts. Would help them enormously ahead of the next ashes series to play county cricket in England. They would be perfectly acclimatized to the Duke ball and the pitches as well as the general conditions.

    • Doug April 6, 2018 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      They are going to start using the Duke balls in the Sheffield Shield apparently.

  9. Tom April 6, 2018 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Lah di dah – the high and mighty English. You’re like pigs in shit, aren’t you? Oh my goodness, can we come to terms with signing Steve Smith?! Heaven forbid. Let’s all wrestle with that moral conundrum!

    Did you write a piece asking this question about Du Plessis and Philander? No you didn’t.

    You’re welcome to dislike Australians. Of course you are. But if you can’t even acknowledge the inconsistencies then you cease to be credible.

    • Comte April 6, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Do you have your own comedy show on Aussie TV? Possibly called Mr Tedious?

    • Marc Evans April 8, 2018 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      How are their punishments inconsistent? The ICC gave them a slap on the wrist. It’s your own cricket authorities that dished out the draconian punishment. Don’t condemn the English, it’s your own that created this furore, initiated by your dickhead PM. Now there is a pig in shit.

  10. Andy Cheese April 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    The “Sandpaper Bandits” – just say NO !

  11. Hungerpang April 6, 2018 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I’m staggered how harshly these guys are being treated, not least on this forum, and think it contrasts very badly with all the people who think it’s perfectly fine for Ben Stokes to keep earning a living just because what he did isn’t yet adjudged criminal. I say let ’em play and have to put up with a summer of people relentless ripping the piss out of them.

    On a related note, the fact that none of them are challenging their bans pretty much confirms to me that there’s been a concerted ball-tampering effort for some time by the Aussies, and almost certainly during the Ashes. Pretty much the first question Counsel would ask is “was this the first time, or have you done it before?”. They’d be faced with either spilling the beans or perjuring themselves, so they chose not to go to court.

    • Doug April 6, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Prove Australia were ball tampering during the Ashes? What have you got, what has anybody got to say they cheated? A truckload of cameras at every ground in Australia never picked up a thing, except one clear and obvious act – England were belted high and low by a superb gang of fast bowlers that spooked the English batters.
      Can anybody prove that Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis cheated because they had prodigious reverse swing? The fact they played together, both reversed swung the ball that they did perhaps collude together? We woo in amazement at their feats, history has dictated that, but now in this modern day, anybody who reverse swings the ball, it has been tampered with.
      Does the darling of English cricket, Jimmy Anderson, ever get accused? Oh no, he’s English, he can’t possibly cheat because he’s Jimmy.
      So where is the evidence that Australia cheated during the Ashes? Show me the evidence and I’ll show you how Wasim and Younis cheated.
      You’ve got nothing.

      • Cricketcricketcricket April 6, 2018 at 10:40 pm - Reply

        Didn’t they find footage of Bancroft with sugar during the ashes and warner with ‘tape’ which looks like rough paper ??

        Tbh, I couldn’t care less now. It’s done and they got away with it or didn’t do it. Saldy, now they are convicted cheats no one knows either way and it taints the series.

        ICC need to bring in new laws and harsh punishments to bring consistency to punishments and clean up the game.

      • Hungerpang April 6, 2018 at 10:46 pm - Reply

        Of course I can’t prove it. I didn’t say I could. I simply said that the conclusion I draw from the fact they didn’t appeal is that they had been doing it for some time, based on the logic I stated earlier. What other explanation have you got as to why they didn’t appeal a wholly disproportionate ban that’s going to cost each of them millions? Because they believe CA is trying to make a statement, they’re really sorry and they agree? Get real.

        And yes, I believe, Anderson, Philander, Waqar, Wasim, Imran and every other bowler who has been able to generate prodigious swing in unusual circumstances is likely to have found a way to illegally tamper with the ball. I can’t prove that either, I just think it’s likely they managed to find a way to do it without being caught.

      • Steve April 7, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

        It’s worth reading the cricinfo article that ball tampering is only policed by Broadcasters since the Pakistan blow up in 2006 where there was no tv evidence although plenty on the ball apparently. Broadcasters obviously are partisan for the home team. Only touring teams have been caught with the sole exception of Atherton 25 years ago.

        Despite that teams now routinely get reverse and much earlier on than when it used to appear sporadically with very old balls. Now part of that may be banging it in cross seam and early introduction of spin which is legit to bounce throws and the spinners needing to rub dirt onto their hands almost every ball and the like is borderline but which teams are pretty much doing regularly these days. It’s clear that the practice of roughing to varying degrees is endemic. I actually suspect that the “tape with dirt” is what Warner was doing with the strapping in his hand (or at least where it started) which is why they came up with it as Bancroft’s “excuse”.

        In any case teams get reverse reliably now and didn’t in the past and I don’t believe it’s all due to the skill of the bowlers now versus 20 years ago. I doubt they are doing it legally although probably generally in more subtly ways than taking sandpaper out on the field.

        • SimonH April 7, 2018 at 8:13 am - Reply

          “although plenty on the ball apparently”.

          Can you explain why that ball has never been shown in public? Also, the ball was shown to several media figures (from memory, I think Simon Hughes and Boycott were two of them) and they said they couldn’t see what the problem had been.

          That Darrell Hair subsequently asked for a tax-free lump sum and has since (last October) admitted theft to fund a gambling addiction ought also to give pause for thought.

    • Cricketcricketcricket April 6, 2018 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      I agree with your point about stokes. He shouldn’t be even considered for any professional cricket game after what he has done (regardless of the law part). The game simply shouldn’t want that type of person in it.

      However, because englsnd are crap and everyone thinks Stokes is a god he’s allowed to behave like that.

      Aus punishment is fine and it’s about time the ICC and boards punished players properly but stokes getting away with it just shows how a lack of consistency means smith and co should feel villafied

    • SimonH April 7, 2018 at 8:17 am - Reply

      ” the fact that none of them are challenging their bans pretty much confirms to me that there’s been a concerted ball-tampering effort for some time by the Aussies”.

      Possibly – but there are plausible other explanations of this (like nods and winks about future treatment).

  12. JohnB April 6, 2018 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    Regarding the length of the bans – so far as I can see, Aust play 1 test v Zimbabwe in July, 2 v Bangladesh in August, 4 v India in December, 2 v Sri Lanka in January (for which Bancroft would be eligible) and 3 v Pakistan in March (depending on the exact dates, Warner and Smith might technically be eligible for one of them). So it’s a 7 test ban for Bancroft and 11 or 12 for the other 2. That’s a lot but given 3 of the games are against Zimbabwe and 2 in the Australian winter v Bangladesh at 2nd string venues (I assume) you can (with the greatest respect) arguably apply some sort of discount to the total number. If you do that the actual penalties aren’t that far off what you propose.

  13. Mike Chaffin April 7, 2018 at 12:02 am - Reply

    I think you’ll find that the convict’s reputation in general means that Counties wouldn’t think twice.

    In fact they’d merely be thinking that they could get them cheaper because they are officially cheats.

  14. Marc Evans April 7, 2018 at 3:38 am - Reply

    I don’t see how recruiting players clearly upset by recent events and surely in no frame of mind to concentrate on the job in hand is going to be in the interest of any county.
    Also having observed the unsympathetic reaction of many English fans to the goings on in South Africa I don’t see how the players would want to expose themselves to the inevitability of a public backlash in their fragile frame of mind. I am sure there would be a chorus of boos every time they took to the field. I would be amazed if any county took up their options. They are surely better off keeping a low profile for the time being.

  15. Steve April 7, 2018 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Or the IPL are just reactionary hypocrites. I don’t remember them reacting this way about Faf last year.

    I mean it’s not playing someone facing charges for a serious assault.

    • Cricketcricketcricket April 7, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

      Who cares about the IPL barring Indians ?!?!

    • Marc Evans April 8, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      The IPL are just a franchise run by businessmen. There is no morality in business, just self interest. This is why I believe 20-20, a game clearly homogeonised to attract general sports fans, should be left to them exclusively, they being very good at it. The cricket authorities can then be left to administer cricket without having the pressure of trying to come up with new forms of the game to compete for attention. That way no form treads on the other’s toes and there is room for all.

  16. SimonH April 7, 2018 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Pity nobody told poor old Head Coach David Saker what was going on, eh?

  17. vkworld April 8, 2018 at 4:10 am - Reply

    nice article

  18. SimonH April 8, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    That’s three different media sources I’ve seen in the last ten days pushing for the inclusion of Joe Clarke.

    Nothing against Clarke but he averaged 19 for the Lions and last year managed a decent but hardly stratospheric average of 42 in D2 with two centuries. Compare that, say, with Rory Burns who seldom seems to get mentioned….

    This sort of thing is why it’s difficult to believe this sort of coverage is organic and isn’t to some extent co-ordinated. It’s also why the “face fits” stench about the England set-up hangs about so persistently.

    • Comte April 8, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Clarke is definitely an England player of the future. But even as a Worcester member I have to say that he ‘s frustratingly inconsistent and hasn’t taken best advantage of his Lions opportunities. His day will come but I agree – he is being touted in some quarters as someone who should step up sooner rather than later – and I think that that would be be a mistake.

  19. SimonH April 9, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Watching the Masters (sorry, not the IPL) over the weekend I was struck by the similarities between David Warner and Patrick Reed. Both, we’ve been told endlessly by the media, are “unlikable”. What surprises me is how many people who think themselves sceptical and immune to media brainwashing swallow this hogwash and like or dislike people they’ve never met because of what the media tell them.

    The charge sheet against Reed, presented by the likes of Andy Bull, is that Reed:
    1) Once used an un-PC term swearing to himself (he was swearing at himself and has apologised. Never mind, it was the sort of term that prompts liberal and tolerant Guardian readers to excommunicate people from humanity forever).
    2) Rumours of cheating and theft when he was younger (rumours, nothing proven. At least one England cricketer, now a national treasure [TM] had similar rumours about him as a youngster but they’ve been filed down the memory hole).
    3) Self-confidence or cockiness (wow, elite sportsmen have a lot of self-belief. What a surprise. I think I dislike more those who put on a front of faux self-deprecation when anyone with half a brain knows it’s not what they really think).
    4) Not popular with fellow professionals (Reed was second in a survey of golfers other golfers wouldn’t help in a fight. Leaving aside what an odd question that is, maybe that says more about them? I don’t know if his fellow Ryder Cup teammates disliked Reed but it didn’t stop them sending him out first in the singles where he took down Europe’s No.1 in one of the best displays of matchplay I’ve seen).

    The media are losing their role of gatekeepers and one of their few remaining powers is telling us who to like and who to dislike. Don’t fall for it! Part of it is self-interest (the people they tell us we should like are the ones who play the media’s game) and part of it is shared prejudice. Maybe being disliked by most of the media isn’t necessarily a badge of honour but it sure shouldn’t be a badge of shame.

    What do we want from our public figures? Do we want a kind of docile, photogenic likability? Are we going to be honest enough that the qualities that get us frothing about an opponent are the ones we secretly love about our own? Are we willing to condemn based on rumour and innuendo (because those so much make us feel like insiders) rather than due process?

    • Comte April 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      I watched quite a bit of the Masters. What a joy! Some great golf and a complete absence of the hysterical kind of commentary evident elsewhere (Commonwealth Games). Sir Richie of Benaud would have nodded approvingly. As for Reed I know virtually nothing about him, other that he’s a fine golfer who held it together when McIlroy didn’t.
      And my dislike of Stokes was formed way before he started beating up people outside nightclubs. Veering off topic but I don’t care.

  20. SimonH April 9, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Yasir Shah out of the England tour.

    A pointless tour gets even more pointless. Couldn’t the ECB ask Bangladesh – or just scrap the whole thing?

    • Cricketcricketcricket April 9, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      It’s not pointless.. cook, root, Stokes and the not good enough players can feast.. boost the avg’s and then we can be told how world clsss they all are again

  21. SimonH April 10, 2018 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    “This [moaning] isn’t, strictly speaking, something to look forward to – unless you are one of those who needs the occasional cathartic grumble to survive the modern world. There are plenty of such people among the cricket fraternity. Complains about the marginalisation of the County Championship will be a recurring theme of the season…. Balancing finance and sporting integrity is evidently a lot harder than us bedroom idealists realise, and there is an increasing fear that the England and Wales Cricket Board is wrestling with an unsolvable problem. Even if that is true, it won’t stop many of the summer’s talking points rapidly turning into moaning points”.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of Rob Smyth, is how much contempt those comfortably inside cricket have for criticisms of how the ECB are managing the game. They can’t wait for 2020 and all these mythical new spectators who pay up and shut up.

    • Cricketcricketcricket April 10, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      2020 will survive but it won’t being new fans to the game. It’ll keep a small amount of kids interested until 17,then most will quit. Those who don’t.. will by 25..then once most reach 30+.. I bet a very low %will keep playing, let alone watching .

      Meh, it is what it is. If you watch 2020then you’re basically telling the ECB you agree

    • AB April 11, 2018 at 9:04 am - Reply

      I don’t get this “inside” vs “outside” cricket thing. Surely some of the commenters on this site and at BOC are more deeply “inside cricket” than any journalist and indeed pretty much anyone at the ECB? I’ve been involved in English cricket for more than 30 years ffs. I’m a spectator, a player, a fully qualified and accredited county-level coach, an umpire, a club administrator, a junior coordinator, a tournament organiser, a school liaison, an advocate, a recruiter, a mini-bus driver. If I’m outside cricket then everyone is outside cricket. I’m sure the same applies for many people here.

      We need to reclaim the terminology here. We are not voices from “outside cricket”, we are the voice OF English cricket. Its the senior ECB administrators and their cabal of media stooges who are the real outsiders to English cricket.

  22. Cricket-Now April 12, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    No way! A ban means a ban.. Let it be!

    • Pete Cresswell April 13, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      The ICC banned them for a match. Which is pretty consistent with other tampering bans.

      The fact that CA has decided to shoot itself in the other foot in a (probably futile) attempt to regain the moral high ground they think they used to have shouldn’t constrain the counties.

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