Australian cricketers banned after ball tampering incident

Apr 2, 2018 | Sports

South Africa’s Morne Morkel celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Australia’s Steven Smith during the third test match. This was Steven Smith’s last innings before he was banned for one year.  (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Aditya Krishnan

Australian captain Steven Smith was suspended from cricket for a year after being charged with ball tampering against South Africa in Cape Town.

Along with Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were suspended too. While Warner was suspended for a year, Bancroft has been banned from cricket for nine months according to a press release by Cricket Australia.

In addition to the suspension, Smith and Bancroft will not be considered for any leadership position and must wait for another 12 months after serving their bans to be considered for leading. David Warner will never be considered for any leadership position.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland talks during a press conference at a hotel, in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

“People would want to use their own words but cheating is certainly one of them that is probably appropriate in the circumstances,” Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“I think it’s quite disgraceful, coming from the leadership group specially,” Humber cricket coach Ahmed Patel said. He felt that the Australians were out of the game already so there was no need to resort to such illegal activities in order to try and win.

The incident occurred last Saturday during the third test match of the Australian tour of South Africa in Newlands stadium, Cape Town. Television cameras picked up Cameron Bancroft working on the ball using a yellow piece of tape.

In a press conference at the end of the day in Cape Town, Bancroft said there was a discussion during the lunch break. He saw the opportunity to use some tape and granules from the pitch to change the condition of the ball. But Bancroft panicked after being sighted on the big screen in the stadium.

“I’m not proud of what’s happened, it’s not within the spirit of the game,” Steven Smith said at the press conference.

He admitted the leadership group knew about the tampering. Smith said he was not proud of it and it has brought his and the team’s integrity into question. It would not happen again, he said.

But according to the press release, vice-captain Warner instructed Bancroft to use sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball. Smith knew about this potential plan but failed to take steps to prevent its implementation. All involved players are facing multiple charges for breaching Article 2.3.5 of the CA code of conduct.

“They are going to be known for this more than they will be for the amazing talent they have,” Patel said on the future of the players’ careers. “This incident has ruined their image and their brand.”

Faraz Qadeer, who plays for IndoPak Cricket Club in the Toronto District Cricket Association (TDCA), feels the Australian team was trying to find an illegal advantage over the other team that is not in the spirit of the game.

“Being punished for it is the right consequence,” Qadeer said.

Australian Cricket Captain Steve Smith reacts to the charges at a press conference in Sydney International Airport, Australia. (AAP via Reuters/Brendan Esposito)

“I made a serious error of judgement and i now understand the consequences,”  Smith said at a press conference in Sydney on Thursday. He said it was a failure of his leadership and took full responsibility for the incident after Cricket Australia laid out the charges.

“I’m sorry and I’m absolutely devastated,” Smith said.

A tearful Smith said he would do everything he can to make up for his mistake and the damage it has caused. He would regret this for the rest of his life.  He hopes he can earn back respect and forgiveness with time.

“Cricket is my life and I hope it can be again,” Smith said.

Qadeer feels the one year ban is a bit harsh because the International Cricket Council banned Smith for just one test match but Cricket Australia made it longer. He said that the disagreements in the pay disputes between Cricket Australia and the captains was something which could have built up to this one year ban.

He said this would set an example and send a positive message for young cricketers. They would be hesitant to follow a senior player to do something like this.

“This is something that’s very strict, it should not happen,” Qadeer said.

“There are millions and millions of Australians that love the game of cricket and our job is to continue inspiring young people who love the game,” Sutherland said at the press conference. He said that this incident has damaged the game of cricket as a whole and Australian cricket as well.

Meanwhile, Tim Paine has been made the stand-in captain and will lead the side in the fourth test match against South Africa starting in Johannesburg on March 30.