In what was possibly the most disgraceful act on a cricket field since the underarm bowling incident, Cameron Bancroft tried to scuff up one side of the ball with a piece of tape during the post-lunch session on day three.
As the camera zoomed in on Cameron Bancroft during the third Test between Australia and South Africa in Cape Town, the viewers were left confused. Moments later, when the umpires pulled the Australian opener aside, the picture got clear. In what was possibly the most disgraceful act on a cricket field since the underarm bowling incident, Cameron Bancroft tried to scuff up one side of the ball with a piece of tape during the post-lunch session on day three.
Hours after the incident, the captain of the Australian cricket team, Steve Smith admitted that the team’s think tank was aware of the act and had decided to go ahead with the plan during the lunch break. Even though there is no official confirmation on who all were a part of this party, David Warner, the vice-captain is a certainty.
Massive pressure from media, cricketing fans and an intervention from Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull forced Cricket Australia to take immediate action as both Smith and Warner stepped down from their post, allowing wicketkeeper Tim Paine to take charge. Smith was handed a one-match suspension and fined 100 percent of his match fee while Cameron Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee and handed three demerit points for breaching Level 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct.
CA move to clarify Australian players travel movements after Steve Smith had been linked to a flight home today. READ: https://t.co/CnbQVk5u2q pic.twitter.com/4GVhSLDxIi
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 26, 2018
The incident has also put clouds over Smith’s participation in the Indian Premier League. The IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said the BCCI will wait before taking any decision. “Smith is an important player for Royals and is their skipper. It’s only fair that they wait,” he said.
However, with just 10 days left for the 11th season of the Indian Premier League, the BCCI should certainly ban Steve Smith and David Warner who were the main instigators in the act. Smith was appointed Rajasthan Royals captain for IPL 2018 while Warner leads Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament.
A lot of people still don’t understand the seriousness of the situation. When Smith says the decision to tamper ball was taken in a meeting, he admits that the Australian players ‘cheated’ while knowing what exactly they were doing and what could be the consequences.
There are reports suggesting that Smith and Warner could be banned for life by Cricket Australia but irrespective of CA’s decision, it is now upon the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the richest and most powerful cricketing board to take a strong action and set an example for others.
My 2cents worth – This will be Darren Lehmann’s greatest test as a coach, cos I will struggle to believe that this was all Bancroft’s idea. #SandpaperGate.
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) March 24, 2018
Rajasthan Royals who is returning to the league after a gap of two years, have more reasons than just the recent sandpaper gate to take action against Smith. The franchise’s first task will be to reposition itself among fans and a captain with a damaged image is the last thing it would need. Also, Royals were hit hard in 2013 with the match-fixing scandal and another controversy will only hurt its reputation.
The management dropped a big hint that it could take action against Smith by saying that it will not tolerate any actions that are unfair by definition and bring disrepute to the game of cricket. “We have been made aware of the controversy of ball tampering in the ongoing Australia-South Africa series and await further instructions from BCCI, before we make any announcement,” said Ranjit Barthakur, executive chairman of Royals, in a statement.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, have remained silent on the issue.
For Smith, the time has changed fast. In the space of two days, Australia’s top batsman has gone from a golden boy to national pariah and it looks likely that he has played his last Test as captain. Warner’s chequered past and predilection for aggressive “sledging” is what has kept him away from Australia’s leadership role and after the recent incident, his hopes of promotion have surely been extinguished.
Wow! Full confession from Australia. Admit it is embarrassing. Admit leadership group discussed it. It will take a long long time for them to get over this. PS: With so many cameras around it was also extremely silly.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 24, 2018
On any other day, in any other sport, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft should have been on the first plane home after they were exposed. But, cricket being gentlemen’s game often allows the bad boys to pass without much trouble.
However, in the last few years, the gentleman that cricket is, has been shot with bullets multiple times and its time to act before it dies!