The Australian cricket team’s leaders have been awarded very light penalties for a deliberate and premeditated act of cheating in altering the condition of the ball with a rough tape. They haven’t only breached the letter of the law, but also transgressed the boundaries of the spirit of a game that for long was considered a metaphor for fair play and sportsmanship. Also, they used a junior player as the conduit in this cynical act of cheating to try and gain an advantage. In keeping with an established pattern of discrimination in treating offences against the game’s image depending on which countries the offenders come from, the ICC match referee acted in an avuncular way. His action is almost like a slap on the wrist for favourite nephews when they come from Australia and England. In standing down Steve Smith and David Warner for just one Test, the ICC betrayed its discriminatory attitude towards offenders.
Cricket Australia is expected to take far sterner action as the nation was outraged over the tactics of their cheating cricketers. They may be rabid sports fans Down Under, even supportive of their confrontational, success-seeking compatriots. But they’re also unforgiving of flawed heroes, and are outraged by this flagrant act of cheating caught by high-definition cameras, and then trying to hide it from umpires after being found out. The point to consider is, historically, Australians have been strident critics of Asian teams for using tactics like tampering with the state of the ball and appealing for catches in doubtful circumstances. Every time in such cases, the Aussies adopted a “holier than thou” attitude and acted as if they were the only paragons of virtue on the field. The Australians must now decide to award exemplary punishment to their captain, vice-captain and stooge for breaching the laws of the game in this outrageous way.
Indian cricket expects nothing less than a long-term ban on Steve Smith and David Warner as the game has gone through such turmoil here over players charged with betting and match-fixing and bringing the game into disrepute. The cricket board itself was severely emasculated after the Supreme Court swung into action and named a committee of administrators to run the game following the IPL scandals of 2013. The financial power of Indian cricket, with its global IPL branding, is such that it makes a significant contribution to world cricket. Despite that, the BCCI is fighting for survival as it has lost the trust of patrons who are mainly lovers of the game. Asian and South African cricket boards have shown they aren’t afraid of taking drastic action to ban leading players to win the trust of the people back. Australian cricket must be prepared for many sacrifices if it’s to get over this image hit due to cheats like Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft.