The final verdict was handed down to fallen-Aussie trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft in South Africa yesterday as Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland came down hard on the individuals involved.
In a story that has taken over news headlines all around the globe for the past four-five days, Australia are the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons as they continue to be exposed in this bitter-ball tampering scandal. It was confirmed yesterday that both Steve Smith (captain) and David Warner (vice-captain) have received 12-month bans from Cricket Australia, while Cameron Bancroft can accept a 9-month playing ban as well. As a result of all this, Key-duo Smith and Warner will be absent for some big series coming up including a test series at home against India. What’s even more unsettling is that CA are yet to conduct a full-investigation into the matter, there have been whispers that some other teammates knew about the scandal and could even have been possibly-involved which could cause further-commotion. Talk of team separation has also unsettled the camp after it was reported that fast-bowling duo Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood knew about the ball tampering tactic and tried to distance themselves from the situation, but it appeared that David Warner’s stubbornness & Steve Smith’s lack of leadership in the matter was to overpowering, why they had to make Cameron Bancroft do the dirty work for them definitely suggests that he was a decoy in the scandal to cover Smith & Warner’s behinds.
The two involved in the leadership group have tainted-Australian cricket for years, even decades to come as the word “cheaters” will be linked to this team for a very-long time. One thing I will say in Australia’s defence is that this isn’t the first time ball tampering has been caught on camera – Pakistan were caught against England at The Oval in 2006, four-years later Shahid Afridi was caught biting the ball against Australia at the WACA in 2010, and more recently South African skipper Faf du Plessis was caught using a mint to shine the ball at Hobart in 2016. There have probably been plenty of other incidents where teams have gotten away with tampering, but for Australian cricket it’s a cardinal sin to commit given their reputation as a cricketing nation. It’s a massive-shock really, Steve Smith doesn’t come across as the type of person who would even think about breaking the rules, so much so that the younger generation who have idolised Smith are now jumping off the fallen-stars ship as they come to terms with what their hero has just done.
With the bans now set in stone by CA with further statements to come, Australia must move on quickly which isn’t going to be easy given they still have one test left in South Africa. The Johannesburg reception towards the tourists could be just as devastating as when Steve Smith walked out to bat in Cape Town a day after they admitted to ball tampering, it’s unlikely the Proteas fans will be unforgiving despite the trio’s absence in the side. This could very-well be the fall of Steve Smith as a prolific batsman as well, he scored just 48 runs in his past four innings against South Africa which didn’t help his cause and could be mentally scarred by this incident for years to come. From my point of view, David Warner’s career is more up in the air than Steve Smith’s given his attitude towards the whole saga. Warner was willing to throw the entire team under the bus in order to take the focus off him, at the end of the day justice prevailed. On top of that, the pair have had their $2.4 million IPL contracts torn up after the allegations were confirmed to be true.