From little sins big sins grow
The Australian cricket team are a bunch of cheats. There is no other way to describe them. In the highly unlikely case that you have not heard about the tape incident in South Africa on Saturday night, Cameron Bancroft was caught by the umpires and the copious number of television cameras, tampering with the ball with a small piece of yellow tape. This was in an attempt to gain reverse swing – where a cricket ball swings in the opposite direction to where it should – making life for the opposing batsman difficult. In a humiliating addition, Bancroft was caught trying to hide the piece of tape down the front of his underwear. One must ponder in this world of seemingly endless television cameras, how in God’s name they thought they would get away with it? Apparently we are not just cheats, but very stupid ones at that. In the furore after the fact, it was discovered that the leadership team knew of the action and in fact planned it. Thus the Australian cricket team has been caught preparing and implementing a plan to cheat. There is no pleading of ignorance, or even slight deception, they thought about it, deliberated and fulfilled the action. There should be no mercy for this type of behaviour. Although team captain Steven Smith would not name his fellow conspirators, the leadership team has included the likes of himself, David Warner (Vice Captain), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. It would be hard to believe that the bowlers did not recognise the tampering when they were using the ball. Thus, including the bowlers, at least 3 others knew of the tampering. Therefore there is no other conclusion than the Australian cricket team are now a bunch of cheats.
There is a notion in morality where little sins build up to bigger ones. If you have been following the broadcast of the South African series, then you can plainly see the appalling behaviour of the Australian team. First it was Nathan Lyon (leadership team) dropping the ball (literally) on A.B. de Villiers after running him out. David Warner (vice-captain) apparently ran up to de Villiers’ batting partner and screamed in his face, which of course is all part of the fun in cricket. Then there was the infamous stairwell encounter between – you guessed it – David Warner and Quinton de Kock, where the poor wilting flower Davy, thought he was hard done by with some comments de Kock made about his wife. Warner has been previously quoted saying ‘it’s not sledging its banter’, but apparently Warner is judge and juror of what can be classified as stepping over the line. After the first Test, Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive James Southerland came out and said that the players should be playing in the spirit of cricket later including ‘the need to be respectful of opponents’. Unfortunately, he forgot to mention that the team should also not cheat – these days such things must be spelt out, otherwise how can we expect these men to behave?
Do not think that this approach has only been present under the tutelage of Steve Smith. This ‘win at all costs’ mentality has been endemic in Australian cricket for some time. A simile can be found back in the 2015 World Cup Final when Australia played New Zealand. The ferocity of the sledging was uncontrollable with many (non-Australian) commentators making a note of the send-offs, aggressive on-field tactics and the constant string of abuse. Brad Haddin later said the New Zealanders ‘deserved it [being sledged]’. Nasser Hussain, a former English Captain, remarked during the game ‘isn’t getting them out enough?’ Apparently not for this breed of thuggish men trying to shake the foundation of what was once a game for gentlemen. Brad Haddin’s justification for his then on-field actions was summarised as, ‘I’m not going to play another one-day game so they can suspend me for as long as they like’. This shows the true, underlying approach to cricket the Australians now have. The rules are simply there as a guide for what can and cannot be done at any particular time; if the opportunity presents itself to bend or in this case break them, then why not? The Australians have said that they need the ‘edge’ to perform at their best. Nevertheless, a boxer that needs to be on the brink of death before he begins to put up a fight does not make a good fighter, no matter how many bouts he wins. A cricket team, which is led to behave as a bunch of rabid dogs in order to perform at a certain level, is not a good cricketing team. There is very little beauty in desperation; the Australian team’s actions were ones of desperation, where winning justifies any and all means.
What the Australian team does not understand, and particularly Steve Smith and David Warner, is that cricket and cricketers are not remembered by numbers, wins, losses or even averages, they are remembered by moments. I remember Adam Gilchrist walking after he nicked the ball in the 2003 World Cup semi-final, even though the umpire had not given him out. I remember Freddie Flintoff taking time out of his celebrations to go and shake Brett Lee’s hand during the 2005 Ashes, a defining picture of what cricket can be. On the other hand, Steve Smith is now a cheat, no matter how small the indiscretion – a cheat is a cheat. He has completely ruined his legacy. During the recent Ashes series, Smith was being hailed as the best batsman since Bradman; now there is a perfect rejoinder – ‘at least Bradman wasn’t a cheat’. Cricket fans have long memories and this will hurt as much as the infamous Chappell underarm bowl. Again, there should be no mercy for those that planned the cheating. All of them should be banned, demoted and sent an unequivocal message, the spirit of cricket is more important than any game, because without the spirit of sportsmanship it is just a bunch of people dressed in white, hitting a ball – rather silly when you think about it.