Ball-tampering controversy: Cricketing fraternity wakes up to debate on ethics

Cricket Australia may announce 'exemplary punishment' for Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith.

 |  5-minute read |   26-03-2018
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The ball-tampering controversy, also being referred to as "Sandpaper gate", has brought much disgrace to the Australian cricket team. Cameras caught Cameron Bancroft trying to manipulate the condition of the ball during the team's third Test match against South Africa. He was seen taking out a yellow object (sandpaper) from his pocket and rub it on the ball.

Bancroft and Australia captain, Steve Smith, admitted to have planned this. Smith has been banned for one game even as he and vice-captain, David Warner, stepped down from their positions in the team. Smith has also stepped down as Rajasthan Royals captain for IPL 2018, which is scheduled to start from April 7. Ajinkya Rahane will replace him.

While the Australian team is now being lashed out at for its desperation and "cheap tricks", the episode raises questions over ethics, and other such tampering practices which go unnoticed.

Walk of shame: Australian media

media_032618025958.jpgPhoto: Twitter

Without mincing words, Australian media blasted the cricket team for letting the country, which considers cricket as its national sport, down. The Sydney Morning Herald said Australia's cricket leadership had "lost the plot" and there will be a heavy price to pay. "As this disreputable tour descended from the gutter into the sewer, the mythical line the Australians use as the yardstick for their behaviour has not only become blurred but disappeared altogether," it said.

David Warner's hypocricy

In 2016-17, there was a ball-tampering controversy during the Australia and South Africa series when Proteas captain Faf du Plessis was found guilty of using a mint to shine the ball. Warner's reaction to that episode is now everywhere on social media, as it exposes the hypocricy of the team. “I won’t comment on the way (South Africa) have been behaving but I just know from an Australian cricket perspective: we hold our heads high and I’ll be very disappointed if one of our teammates (illegally change the condition of the ball),” Warner said at a 2016 press conference.

cameron_bancroft_ins_032618030735.jpgCameron Bancroft (Photo: Reuters)

Why not life ban?

Cricketers across the world have expressed displeasure over International Cricket Council (ICC) going "soft" on Australian cricket team. Cricket Australia, however, may announce "exemplary punishment".

Harbhajan Singh slammed the ICC for letting off Cameron Bancroft with only a fine of 75 per cent of his match fee and not a ban. In 2001 South Africa Test, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Shiv Sunder Das, Deep Dasgupta, and Harbhajan were banned for at least a Test by match referee Mike Denness for various offences. In 2008, Sydney Test against Australia, infamously described as Monkey gate, he was banned for three Tests for an alleged racial slur against Andrew Symonds.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was also unhappy with ICC's punishment.

ICC does not recognise tampering as an offence which would call for a life ban. Under the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, changing the condition of the ball breaches clause 41.3, but is only a level-two offence. It carries up to four demerit points, a total that brings about a one-Test ban.

Different from 'dirt in pocket affair'

In 1994, then England captain Michael Atherton was seen taking dirt from his pocket and rubbing it on the ball during a Test against South Africa at Lord's. He was later fined £2,000. Reacting to Sandpaper gate, Atherton said that this is definitely different from the other prevalent practices. "I think what makes this more of a problem for Steve Smith is that this is a rather premeditated effort and then getting the young kid, Cameron Bancroft, to do it," Sky Sports cricket commentator Atherton said in an interview.  "Plenty of of people have been done for it in the past but this one has a slightly different smell,” he said.

Life ban would have taken away many legends

Many users on Twitter  find ball-tampering common and believe that life ban for the offence would altogether empty the space.

Nehra appreciates admission of guilt

Former Indian pacer Ashish Nehra praised the fact that Steve and Bancroft accepted their mistake. “These kind of incidents have happened even in the past. If the International Cricket Council feels that they have done something wrong, then definitely they should be penalised. If they have admitted their mistakes, then it’s a great thing from their sides,” he said. However, this statement drew instant flak.

When Twitter found it funny

Very dumb move

Hatching such a plot and thinking that they would get away with it under so many cameras was a very dumb move.

Also read: What Cameron Bancroft’s ball tampering will mean for Australian cricket

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