On Thursday, 5th November 2015, another chapter in Australian cricket history was written as Australia had a new Test captain. Steve Smith became the 45th player to be honoured with the leadership role on a full-time basis.
The Australian skipper is the second most important person in Australia after the Prime Minister also a big part of Australian culture and then for the captain to come up and say ‘we cheated’ is shattering for Australian society.
A footage on the third day of the third Test between Australia and South Africa showed Cameron Bancroft rubbing a yellow piece of tape on the ball which gave a deep wound to the Australian cricket.
When we talk about the ball tampering scandals, it’s not only about what an individual has done on the field. It’s about the leader letting his team down, it has much more to do with the people of that country who dreamt to be like their role models who are unfortunately involved in this whole ball-tampering saga.
Altering the condition of the ball is a minor part of it, it’s not such a big crime in the gallery of crimes within the ICC but the reason this has become very big is two-fold; one is the captain of a very proud cricketing nation went and told everybody on a press conference that they had planned it and this is how it was always going to be and there is enormous feeling within the Australian community of being led down.
According to the Australian newspaper, Steve Smith was supposed to be the next big batsman after Don Bradman and that is far bigger than just a crime when an Australian admitted to cheat.
The reason behind so much outrage around the cricket world is that Australians have been living in a bubble all along. They believe that they have drawn a line on what is acceptable and the whole world should obey, but what they don’t understand is that what they think is acceptable has over the years actually been considered revolting by some others and that is why when the whole David Warner issue happened and now with Steve Smith there’s been such downright condemnation around the cricket world because everybody believes that Australian line is not a line that everybody else is a part of.
Sometimes you live in a bubble, you carry the air of invincibility around you, when you become famous you think you can get away with things.
When the leader says I think we’re going to do this, how many voices stand up and say no? Similarly, in the Australian team, someone should’ve said that we are making an error of judgment. It’s not just about the captain, it’s about the air in that Australian team.
This Australian side’s problem was not with the bowling but with the batting. They took a chance with their bowling. They should’ve backed their bowlers to win the game, instead, they said we need to do something with the bowling because we don’t back our batting to comeback.
Desperation in Steve Smith’s mind came because he did not think his batsmen could pull him back in the series and therefore they need to do something immediate over there.
Apart from being a moral issue, it was also an unbelievable sense of judgment from Australia to believe they could actually get away with it. They come from a land which has one of the best cricket coverage in the world with 25-30 cameras. It was incredibly silly to believe that they could get away with this with so many cameras watching every move.
The fallout from the saga has been significant with Steve Smith and David Warner being stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy as well as handed one-year bans. Cricket Australia has also suffered a hefty financial blow as a result of the cheating with one major sponsor, Magellan Financial Group, pulling out of a multi-million three-year deal after just a year.
Now the question is who will be the next captain of the Australian cricket team?
Maybe they’ll find someone from outside because there is nobody else in the team with the same level. Somebody who comes and tells Australian public that it doesn’t matter if we win or lose, but we are going to play cricket a certain way and say I’m sorry but we will play a brand of Australian cricket that you will accept and bring trust back.
However, the consequences of which the Australians are going through will probably understand the pain that it causes. The team really needs a lot of patience, a lot of resilience, and most importantly a good leadership.