Steve Smith has stood down as captain of the Australian Test team after he admitted this team conspired to an carried out ball tampering at the Third Test in Cape Town, South Africa.
The idea of roughing the pall up with dirt and sand was discussed in a “leadership group” as a “possible way to get an advantage” and was carried out by team member Cameroon Bancroft.
Smith has now been banned from the fourth Test, and has had four demerit points added to his record.
Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland sent an email to Australian fans last night apologising for the incident, saying that “this behaviour calls into question the integrity of the team and Cricket Australia.”
Legends of the game and cricket commentators have also weighed in their opinions on the ongoing saga. Some have condemmed the actions, while some have said that Smith could be cut some slack.
Here’s what they had to say.
Ian Chappell – former Australian captain
If indeed it was a leadership-group decision then it’s hard to sack Smith mid-series because there’s no obvious captaincy replacement if all the senior players were involved. “It won’t happen again under my leadership,” a sheepish-looking Smith said in the press conference afterwards. He could well be right — he may not have the opportunity to make the same mistake again. Nevertheless, he shouldn’t be the sole scapegoat for a dark day in Australian cricket.
Source: The Australian
Mike Atherton – former England Test captain
Through it all, Australia have attempted to take the moral high ground, insisting that they play the game hard but fair and on the right side of a self-determined ‘line’. If there has been a lack of sympathy for Australia throughout this, it is because of the hypocrisy. It seemed clear to me from watching Smith’s press conference, that he had not grasped the seriousness of his situation. He could have been talking about a dropped catch or two. The game has a nasty habit of biting back. Neither was chortling in Cape Town, nor, half a world away in Australia, were the team’s supporters.
Source: The Australian
Adam Gilchrist – former Australia wicket-keeper and captain
I’m really sad, shocked, stunned – I’m not trying to over-dramatise it but [I’m] really emotional about this. Australian cricket now and the integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport. This clearly is against the laws of the game and we’ve just had our national captain and our national team admit that they sat down, premeditated and pre-planned a way to cheat.
Graeme Swann – former England Test bowler
They’ve set themselves as this higher than high, this pious team who look down at everyone and set the benchmark for what is right and what is wrong in cricket, when everyone who’s played against them knows that’s an absolute joke.
Michael Vaughan – former England Test captain
This will stay with Steve Smith for ever. No matter what he achieves in terms of winning series, scoring match-winning hundreds or lifting World Cups, it will always be remembered that he cheated.
There was no excuse for what Australia did and I can only think it is a sign that winning means too much to this team. They have to win at all costs, regardless of laws or consequences. They just cannot accept that sometimes the opposition play better.
Shane Warne – former cricket player
Forget the ball tampering issue, the bottom line for me is the captain sat there and took a decision to go out there and cheat. The hardest thing for me to accept is the captain went out there to get an unfair advantage against the laws of the game. And at the end of the day he has to live with that for the rest of his life. There’s nothing you could say that can defend what the Australian did.
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Ian Healy – former Australian wicket-keeper
I was angry, it was just weird, I was astonished actually that it could even happen. Even as a one-off behavior. Bu t I’m sure they had a massive warning just last test match to tidy everything up and get this side no the run and into the hearts of Australia. Now they’re cheating. Both [should be] sacked. But not so forever, maybe suspended, I’m thinking. It was un-Australian to talk about the “leadership group” Take it on yourself. You’re responsible for what your team does. The captain and Bancroft must go and have a rest for some time.
Source: Wide World of Sports