The ball-tampering scandal that engulfed the Australian cricket team in March led to a “corporate collapse” at Cricket Australia and left the public deeply hurt, 9News sports reporter Neil Breen says.
Television images on day three of the third Test in Cape Town showed Cameron Bancroft, a rookie opener with a handful of matches to his name, rubbing a yellow object over the ball before hiding it down his pants.
Captain Steve Smith and Bancroft’s press conference after the day’s play, in which they claimed to have used sticky tape and pitch granules in a failed attempt to alter the ball, sent shockwaves through the sport.
But when Cricket Australian found sandpaper had been used in shameful attempt to cheat, it triggered a media storm and public outcry unprecedented in the country’s sporting memory.
Vice-captain David Warner was found to be the mastermind of the plot, handed a 12-month ban from playing and told he would not be considered for any leadership positions in Australian cricket ever again.
Smith was also handed a 12-month ban from playing and an additional 12-month leadership suspension.
Bancroft was banned for nine months and significant caveats were placed on his consideration for any future leadership roles.
Damningly, all three were also reprimanded for lying to match officials and Cricket Australia’s own investigators.
Coach Darren Lehmann also quit days later.
Breen, a veteran sports journalist, said the calculated nature of the ball-tampering escalated its gravity drastically.
“If it was just ball-tampering with a lolly or something, it would have barely raised a fuss,” Breen says.
“But the fact sandpaper was taken on the field in a blatant attempt to manipulate the ball, it was blatant, pre-planned cheating and that just shocked people.
“People knew they were aggressive but the sight of the yellow strip of sandpaper being shoved down Bancroft’s pants was horrific for a sports fan.”
Breen said the acrimonious nature of the previous two Tests had created a feeling of ill-will towards our cricketers.
While previous teams – such as those led by Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Allan Border – had played in a tough, aggressive manner, there was a sense Smith’s XI had “crossed the line” too often.
“There was a feeling simmering away in the Australian public that our team were bad sports,” Breen says.
“The Australian public had become uncomfortable with the level of sledging.
“This had been going on for a long time – not liking the behaviour in general – and when they got to South Africa, it blew up.
“In the first Test, David Warner’s behaviour on the field when he was screaming at Quinton De Kock, then the blow-up in the stairwell.
“The Australian public knew something was amiss in that series.”
Images of heartbroken Smith at a tearful press conference were gut-wrenching to watch.
The scandal set in motion a turbulent few months for Cricket Australia, with CEO James Sutherland and polarising high-performance manager Pat Howard also going.
It also led to an Ethics Centre-led culture review which saw 814 of the game’s key stakeholders – past and present players, coaches, media and sponsors – given their chance to offer feedback on the state of cricket.
The results of the damning report created a groundswell of opposition to CA chairman David Peever, who also fell on his sword.
Breen, who was one of the 450 stakeholders who responded to the survey, describes CA’s implosion was a “corporate collapse”.
“The culture review gave people a chance to vent, and they vented about all the problems with Cricket Australia and how it runs the game,” he said.
“Cricket’s just a game but it’s run like a business.
“Players and people in the game were getting wealthier and wealthier.
“It’s a bit like the banking inquiry – the leaders were never going to survive.
“Initially it was just the three players, then the coach, the CEO and the chairman.
“It took six months but the dominoes began to fall.”
Smith and Bancroft – who made his return to cricket with the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash last night – have begun their efforts to repair their shattered public images this week with television interviews and advertisements.
Each lay the blame for the scandal at the feet of others: Bancroft said Warner had told him to use the sandpaper, while Smith fingered Cricket Australia for creating a culture too focused on results.
Meanwhile, Smith’s replacement as captain Tim Paine has inherited the unenviable task of rebuilding trust – and love – with our national men’s team.
Paine has enjoyed an entertaining verbal battle with Indian counterpart Virat Kohli that has threatened to escalate but remained seemingly good-natured.
With any hope of winning back the Border-Gavaskar trophy lost in Melbourne this week, Breen believes the public will welcome the new era of more respectfulplayers – up to a point.
“People want our team to play tough and fair but if Australia keep on losing being the good guys, the public won’t that either,” he said.
“They will never tolerate behaviour like the first Test in South Africa, let alone the ball-tampering, but they want the team to be successful.
“We’ll end up in a middle ground between the old approach and the new approach.”
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018
Source link : https://www.9news.com.au/2018/12/23/10/14/ball-tampering-scandal-neil-breen-cricket-australia
Publish date : 2018-12-31 02:18:00