Cheating is cheating. Gaining an advantage outside the rules is cheating. Money and match fees are such nowadays that players seemingly will do anything to win. Cricket was so much better when it was an amateur sport. When a bad decision from an umpire couldn’t be reviewed. It was just part of the game. Sometimes it went with you and others against you. Cricket hasn’t often been about the “spirit” of the game. Not any more.
Of course modern technology can provide instant feedback on the correct decision but I’ve always viewed it as wrong to challenge authority when it suits. Really, what message do we send young kids who grow up to think they can protest any decision they disagree with? What lessons or values get taught? TV cameras are everywhere. How do these sportsmen think they’ll get away with claiming a catch they didn’t take? Now this.
While a full inquiry hasn’t commenced it is clear that the player caught tampering was the one fighting hardest to keep his seat, Cameron Bancroft. However team captain Steve Smith admitted he knew in the press conference. While adamant he won’t step down as captain because it will never happen again (Scout’s honour), if he is found implicated in this mess he should be sacked. Period. So should the coach Darren Lehman. I absolutely admire Smith’s crazy talent as a batsman but find such lapses in judgement no excuse and even less worthy of having the honour of leading a national team. If found guilty he should face a lengthy suspension.
Any board would call on their CEO in the corporate world to resign if he/she hadn’t already volunteered it. Yet sports stars, much like politicians, believe hollow promises that the incident won’t happen again should be punishment enough. Qantas should fly these cheats back economy.
Which brings about the ethics of the game. As Smith is the highest ranked batsman in the world will the authorities go weak and impose lighter sentencing to keep the turnstiles ticking? What message does that send? If Smith is in charge he should take the fall for this shocking behaviour and be fined in the $100,000s.
Australia already has a shocking record for bad sportsmanship most infamously with the underarm delivery against NZ in 1981. This test series has been disgusting in many levels. Players mocking other players about the sexual antics of their wives and so on. Australia should forfeit the match and lose their fees. Cricket Australia should be forced to compensate the fans for this debacle and the players responsible fired. Just because Bancroft was fighting to save his career doesn’t excuse him from wrong doing. Sure, playing for one’s country is the highest accolade but any fan wants to see players reach and stay at the top through their hard efforts not through cheating.
What it does tell us is how terrible the governance is within the Australian team. Where were the whistleblowers? Or do the millions they earn each year somehow cloud their judgement? How could the coach condone it? He was on TV admonishing fans for sledging players walking up the race after being dismissed. What a hypocrite if he knew what the team was up to. No excuse. South African Captain Hansie Cronje received a life ban for match fixing. While ball tampering is not quite as severe as throwing matches it is still cheating.
Fans will be judging the response by the authorities and Cricket Australia. Will CEO James Sutherland issue an apology and some harsh words to really clamp down on this? Or will he gloss over the sordid tour, hope time will heal and think of dollar signs only because fans can be treated as mugs.
Ethics? A sign in society today of how little it means.