Hats Off To Cricket Australia For Having The Balls To Uphold The Bans
The first monster six of the summer has been whacked over the fence and out of the ground.
The Aussies’ Test Cricket campaign doesn’t get underway on home soil until early next month but Cricket Australia deserves a standing ovation today after its board unanimously voted to uphold suspensions for former captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and young opening batsman Cameron Bancroft for their roles in the South African ball tampering saga in March.
The stand on the bans remained firm despite mounting pressure and a submission made by the players’ union, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, on behalf of the trio, which wanted the sanctions immediately lifted.
Network 10’s Stephen Quartermain put it best, tweeting that the governing body hadn’t got much right lately but that this was bang on.
The significance of this stance is even more profound given the damning findings in the recently released Ethics Centre review, launched on the back of cricket’s darkest day in this country, which found parallels between Cricket Australia’s culture and the “win at all cost” mentality.
Right from that disastrous day in Port Elizabeth, my sentiments have been whatever will be will be. What I was told by my parents as a little tacker “you do the crime, you do the time” has stuck in my head. Doesn’t matter what your name is, where you bat or what your stats are.
What kind of message would overturning these sanctions have sent?
Arguments based on the length and severity of the sanctions are not a valid reason for them to be scrapped. “They’ve suffered enough” doesn’t fly either, and the form of our Test team and the proposition of a tough series at home for the first time in forever is not grounds for their early return.
Elite sport influences its very roots at grass level. Kids mimic, or at least attempt to, the play, behaviour and every last little detail of their heroes. Go down to Auskick during the winter and see how many little boys are rocking a Dusty Martin haircut. They don’t miss a thing!
This year I’ve thought a lot about how parents and coaches would have explained to budding cricketers what happened in South Africa and why two superstars and, more importantly, leaders of our national team played active roles in cheating, and why an inexperienced, young new face on the team was encouraged and allowed to carry this out.
How then would these adults attempt to explain that despite these grown men breaking the rules, cheating and getting caught, then accepting the repercussions of what came their way, that their suspensions had been cut short?
Cricket Australia interim chairman Earl Eddings said in a statement that it was “not appropriate” to make any changes to the penalties:
CA maintains that both the length and nature of the sanctions remain an appropriate response in light of the considerable impact on the reputation of Australian cricket, here and abroad.
“Steve, David and Cameron are working hard to demonstrate their commitment to cricket and have our continued support to ensure their pathway to return is as smooth as possible.
It’s paramount to remember in all this that Smith, Warner and Bancroft all accepted their bans. It’s time we accept that too and shift our focus to an improved culture established and built within our national cricket team.