SA v Aus Smith and Warner

Published on March 30th, 2018 | by Sarah Waris

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#sandpapergate: It is time we stop this hypocritical hullabaloo over the bans given to Steven Smith and Co!

🕓 Reading time: 4 minutes

“In possibly one of the biggest humiliations in this decade on the cricket field, the actions and the reactions of the media and the experts stood out and it is high-time that they stop whining and complaining when it was they who were indirectly responsible for the decision in the first place!”

For the last few days, the cricketing world has been divided over the happenings in Cape Town, either standing up for the ban that followed once Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft’s admissions on the ball-tampering saga or fighting away the injustice that had befallen them. Though the International Cricket Council banned Australian captain Smith for one game, Cricket Australia, that took immense pride in the values and ethics that their cricketers brought forward on the field, went a step ahead and banned the senior pros for a year each, with Bancroft coughing up a nine-month ban.

However, the outrage that followed the sentence left one befuddled. There was an amalgamation of sorry sentiments, relief, sympathy and empathy. The very same individuals who had stood strong against the “cheaters” were now mellowing down, with many even going on to suggest that the one-year ban should not have gained force at all.

‘It is not that they fixed games.”

“It is unfortunate, but everyone, including Sachin Tendulkar, indulged in ball-tampering. Hell, even Rahul Dravid was caught doing just that.”

“They are human beings after all. They regret the deeds. The ban is harsh, very harsh.”

True. But then, why did the media and the supporters gather together to condemn the act that unravelled in Cape Town so strictly? If ball-tampering is indeed so common, why did they create such a ruckus over the same? Was it because the Aussie cricketers came to the field with the intention of tampering the all-important ball to help reverse swing? It had been conveyed that plans to go ahead with ball-tampering had been discussed minutely during the lunch break by Australia’s “leadership group”, which was a major reason why the hullaballoo broke out in the first place amidst the supporters of the game.

How could the players – and that too, such experienced and reputed cricketers – play the game with little or no sincerity? How could they indulge in something that is legally wrong, just because they wanted to win? As youngsters, weren’t they made aware that ball tampering is a strict no-no and then they all sit together and foil the plan in a high-profile series? How could they?

But soon after the bans were given out, the very same beings who had apparently been so “hurt” at the actions of the cricketers and the astute planning that went on in the Australian dressing room, felt pangs of guilt when they realised that Smith and Warner will remain absent from India’s tour of Australia. The same bunch of aggrieved souls went on their social media accounts to prove why the trio didn’t deserve such a harsh treatment. Do they not realise that it was THEIR behaviour in the first place, that pushed CA to take such a step?

If the media had not created such a scene, maybe, just maybe James Sutherland would not have pushed their most reliable player into the oblivion. Smith could possibly have been wearing the Baggy Green in the next couple of months itself if it had not been conveyed to the CA so vociferously that their own had corrupted the game. It is no secret that the Australian Board had to take stern steps following the backlash and to emerge as a body with integrity, they were forced to take such decisions. The Australian cricket captain has always been held in high regard by the citizens in the nation, and with even the Prime Minister voicing his regret at the happenings, CA just had to act firm and strict.

Also, what one fails to realise is that the ban is not because of the incident per se but because of the tarnish that was brought about to the country and to the sport in the country of Australia – which was based on the aggressive cries all around! The cricketers lied, they robbed the audiences of the truth and unabashedly even denied any wrong-doings to the umpires. True, initially it was about tampering, later on these ethics or the lack of it was what angered one and all and justice was vehemently asked for.

And now, when it has been done, the media lets out a cry of sigh once again? If the step had not been taken, would anyone have stood back and said, “oh, it’s just ball-tampering. Glad they weren’t banished for this”? Rather, they would have seen the CA as an organisation without any respect and deemed the Association meek, who did not want to lose their marquee players, even after they had cheated the game.

And now, when it has been done, a reverse outcry has followed! Maybe a 6-month ban would have been enough, but the voices all around when the hideous “crime” was caught suggested otherwise.

True, it was heart-breaking to see Smith, one of the most talented batsmen of this generation, being escorted out of South Africa as if he was a mass murderer. It was gut-wrenching when he addressed the media in Australia, giving in to tears after almost every sentence. Maybe, he had become the victim after admitting his deeds publicly, when not many have taken up the courage to own up. Maybe the scenes and the judgement that followed post the incident might not see a complete abolishment of ball-tampering. Maybe post this, the players will become cleverer and plot newer techniques to change the condition of the ball, away from the prying cameras.

However, it is the reactions of the people around that caused this scandal to emerge greater than it was. If even Tendulkar had done this, why weren’t Smith and Co. forgiven? If we could not forgive them, why create such a fuss when the trial has ended? In possibly one of the biggest humiliations in this decade on the cricket field, the actions and the reactions of the media and the experts stood out and it is high-time that they stop whining and complaining when it was they who were indirectly responsible for the decision in the first place!

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About the Author

mm

This postgraduate in English Literature has taken on the tough task of limiting the mystic world of cricket to a few hundred words. She spends her hours gorging on food and blabbering nineteen to the dozen while awaiting the next sporting triumph.



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