So Steven Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft have all received a one year and nine month ban, respectively, from Cricket Australia because of admitting to ball tampering.
The cricket world vilified them when they got the ICC punishment, and then sympathized with them when Cricket Australia gave them the longer bans and they all came out crying in their post-ban pressers.
Now, here’s the thing about ball tampering, it has always existed in cricket and it will do so in the future.
The ICC has made the game as batsmen-friendly as possible with no balls, limited number of bouncers per overs, and free hits, to name a few.
There are no laws on switch hits or the number of slogs a batsman can attempt in an over, to put things into perspective.
Only a bowler that bowls in excess of 140 km/h can get the ball to reverse swing once the ball has gotten old and has been made rough on one side and shiny on the other.
The ball, almost 90% of the time, needs to be tampered with to get one side rough and it would not be false to say that this is an art.
The ICC and the cricket boards all know about it and are lenient towards it given how marginalized fast bowlers have become. It is, however, the TV broadcasters that police ball tampering more than anyone, so rest assured, if this series was taking place in Australia, the chances of the Bancroft footage being shown would be zero.
The argument can be made that it goes against the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fair and played hard, which is a motto of the Australians and their cricket.
Because the Australians were caught here and then decided to have a special press conference where they admitted to cheating, the Australian PM decided to get involved, and hence the Australian board acted.
The game has bigger problems at hand like betting, franchise T20 cricket killing Tests, and the game becoming less and less global with the rise of India’s financial dominance in cricket
So, because the players admitted to cheating, including the captain, that is when the country’s pride took a hit and the events that followed almost became mandatory.
When ball tampering takes place, the whole team, especially the leadership core, knows about it. Almost all teams with express fast bowlers do it and will do it in the future for reverse swing. The talk should be about why it’s not legalized yet.
The game has bigger problems at hand like betting, franchise T20 cricket killing Tests and their interest, and the game becoming less and less global with the rise of India’s financial dominance in cricket.
As for Smith, Warner, and Bancroft, they could have handled the situation better, not done that presser, and perhaps let the ICC give the fines and bans.
They can just see how India dealt with the situation when Tendulkar was accused of ball tampering.
Or how the South Africans dealt with the recent accusation of Faf du Plessis tampering the ball.
You could say Smith did a very un-Australian thing by taking the blame and the whole leadership core in trying to save Bancroft’s young career. But it clearly backfired.
And perhaps it was a long time coming, given how the Aussies have always been the ones accusing others of ball tampering and illegal actions.
Shahnoor Rabbani is a radio show host, and cricket commentator at Radio Shadhin 92.4 FM.