Australian cricketer Steve Smith should be reinstated as Test captain immediately, according to the Australian Cricketers’ Association.
ACA President Greg Dyer and Chief Executive Alastair Nicholson made the call yesterday after Cricket Australia released a report into the ball-tampering scandal earlier this year in South Africa. It found that Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft should not be held solely responsible for the incident.
The 145-page report, compiled from player interviews by Simon Longstaff and the staff of the Ethics Centre, criticised Cricket Australia (CA) for creating a “win without counting the costs culture” that didn’t respect the playing in the spirit of the game.
It even alluded to the point at which the rot may have set in, when CA implemented recommendations from the 2011 Argus review commissioned to arrest the slide in the national team’s performance.
At that point, the Longstaff report said, CA leaders failed to ensure that “the will-to-win was balanced by an equal commitment to moral courage and ethical restraint”.
In turn, that led to a point where the events at Newlands in Cape Town were “more likely than not” to occur.
After the trio were caught using — and admitted conspiring to use — sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball, they were handed lengthy bans from the game. Smith and Warner were given 12-month bans from representing Australia, and playing in the Sheffield Shield and Big Bash League competitions.
They’re due to return in March next year.
Bancroft was banned for nine months and will be eligible to play again in December.
But the ACA says it’s now apparent those bans were excessive, given CA has been identified as partly to blame for promoting the culture that led to such poor behaviour.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the association also was concerned about why Smith and Bancroft “were allowed to front a press conference on the day the ball-tampering scandal exploded”.
Reviewing the sanctions now after the trio had served six months of their bans, “would be a sign of good faith towards the players”.
CA chairman David Peever said on Monday that no such action would be taken, despite acknowledging the penalties were “formed from the view there were no other contributing factors”.
Former national coach Darren Lehmann and former Australian captain Steve Waugh have also called the bans harsh in light of the Longstaff review’s findings.