The cheating by the Australian cricket team has left a proud sporting nation shell-shocked. But Cameron Bancroft should not be the poster boy for this ball-tampering plot.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on March 26, 2018

The Australian cricketers were booed relentlessly by South African supporters as they went into bat in Cape Town overnight.

First, openers Cameron Bancroft and David Warner — both heavily involved in ‘Sandpapergate’ — and then Steve Smith, who had already been stood down as skipper for the remainder of the test.

The vast majority of Australian fans would have been thinking to themselves, ‘Good. Give it to them’. Indeed, if the series was being played in Australia, the chorus of boos (if anyone bothered to turn up) would have been even louder.

While we as a nation are fiercely supportive of our representative teams, we won’t cop our elite sportspeople cheating.

And sadly, that’s exactly what Smith, Warner and other yet-to-be-named senior players did when they hatched a plan to swing the balance of the match in their favour by ball-tampering.

It wasn’t a spur of the moment brain snap, it was calculated.

While it was Bancroft that actually carried it out, as an inexperienced member of the team whose grip on the baggy green is tenuous, he knows Smith and Warner can make or break his career. The pressure to oblige would have been overwhelming.

Former Australian spinner Brad Hogg said he had been “thrown under a bus”.

“I saw him grow up as a 13-year-old who had the passion to wear the baggy green, and within eight Test matches, he has been put in a situation in which he shouldn’t have,” Hogg said. “I know it is not in his character to do this of his own accord.

“His true character came out at the press conference where he stood up and owned up to what he did and was willing to take the consequences for it.

“That is true leadership and other players should take note of how he has handled himself.”

He should still be punished, but the so-called ‘leadership group’ that decided they had earned the right to risk the reputation of Australian cricket for a cheap win, are the ones Cricket Australia (CA) really needs to make an example of.

Where once we had leaders that thrived on the challenge of a fight, who would dig in when the going got tough in hostile territory, we now have a group that reeks of entitlement, privilege, and a lack of respect for those that came before them.

The fact that Smith said with a straight-face he believes he is still the right man to lead the national team is astounding.

He doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation, or just how embarrassed the whole nation was when it awoke to hear about the attempted rort.

Smith has been a hero to Aussie kids everywhere, and now parents will have to explain to them why he won’t be playing in the fourth test, and why, if common sense prevails, he’ll never captain again.

This Australian team has been losing favour for some time. The way they have been carrying on, particularly when they’ve been winning, has gone beyond harmless gamesmanship, it’s cringeworthy.

This has to be a wake-up call for the players, and a hard lesson for our kids.

The fallout

The International Cricket Council has rightfully come under fire for not responding strongly enough. It banned Smith for one game and docked him 100% of his match fee, and then handed Bancroft three demerit points and will make him give up 75% of his fee.

Where was the action against vice-captain Warner and the rest of the brain trust?

CA is expected to come down much harder. The sooner it does, the better.

Former Australian player Simon Katich is demanding CA sack Smith, Warner and coach Darren Lehmann.

“If CA come out of this and condone sledging, they condone blatant cheating, then the message they send to the thousands of kids that they want to aspire to wear the baggy green is a far worse message than a few guys losing their jobs.”

Adam Gilchrist was in disbelief when he spoke on Network Ten as part of the broadcast coverage of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

“I’m really sad, shocked, stunned – I’m not trying to over-dramatise it but (I’m) really emotional about this,” he said.

“Australian cricket now and the integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport.”

Australian cricket now and the integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport.

Social media has ensured the players will be well-aware they won’t be welcomed home with open arms. The fans are seething, and #CricketCrisis is trending on Twitter.

If I was Sutherland I would’ve sent Smith and Warner home on the first available flight to face the heat.

It is now being reported that Smith will depart today. Great, but tell Warner to pack his bags too. Then continue the investigation into who knew what.

We can handle losing, but not cheating. Thanks lads, for making us the laughing stock of world sport!

These are my own views, and not necessarily representative of Bean Media.