Opinion piece in Fairfax press, but could be from any reasonable person
At least the underarm episode - back in 1981 - was technically legal and something that happened in the heat of the moment, a desperate last-ball-of-the-day ploy ordered by Australian captain Greg Chappell at a time when, by his own admission, he was not “mentally fit,” to be the skipper.
The horror of what happened in South Africa overnight was just how our national cricketing leadership could engage in such cold-blooded, premeditated, clear-eyed CHEATING.
Seriously? It has come to this? We really have an Australian cricket captain, of vast experience, surrounded by a leadership group equally steeped in the lore and laws of the ancient game, and he not only orders a junior member of the team to tamper with the ball, but not one person in the group spoke up and said the bleeding bloody obvious:
• It’s wrong! It is not only against the spirit of the game, but is so far the other side of the laws of the game, it’s nudging up against the murder of cricket.
• It’s stupid – not surface stupid, but stupid that goes right to the bone! We are in an arena with thirty cameras rolling, and we will be caught! I don’t think this is such a great idea, you know, Skip?
• Say, if we win because of this, did you consider how we will manage to get to sleep for the next ten years? We are the heirs of Victor Trumper, Don Bradman, Keith Miller, Richie Benaud, Bobby Simpson, Adam Gilchrist . . . and yet we’re really going to use something other than our skill and guile to win the game?
But no, clearly, not only did Steve Smith put the idea out there, but no-one around him spoke up.
Smith – before he resigns – has some questions to answer.
Take your pick:
• WHAT WERE YOU THNKING, YOU IDIOT?
You hold this position of extraordinary honour, traditionally thought of as the most prestigious behind the Prime Ministership – notwithstanding John Howard’s view that it was the other way around – and you actually thought that the advantage gained by such flagrant cheating stood up against the risk you took of destroying your own good name, that of all the players involved, and your country? DID WE MENTION? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
• Why was Cameron Bancroft, the least experienced Test player in the team the one who was told to do the dirty?
This was the equivalent of a Sergeant, being told by a General, to breach the rules of the Geneva Convention. The Sergeant is at fault, and no mistake, but it is the General who is truly responsible.
If you thought this was such a great idea, Steve Smith, why didn’t you, or someone else in the leadership group do it? Have you heard of a leader never asking one of their charges to do something that they are not prepared to do themselves? Well, why the hell didn’t you do it?
So where to, from here? There are only two choices.
Smith's legacy has been unquestionably tarnished.
Smith must either – as discussed – resign, or he must be sacked from the captaincy. No ifs, no buts, no weasel words about “we have learned our lesson, and will come back from this," etc.
He has to apologise and step down from the captaincy, and if he does not, then Cricket Australia must sack him.
As to who the new captain should be, clearly it is no-one in the leadership group that knew of what was going on.
Either they can find someone in the team of sufficient seniority and is a clean-skin to do the job, or they must bring in someone from outside – perhaps a Sheffield Shield captain, given the task of captaining the side and restoring the country’s reputation. Or even Michael Clarke, called on to do a “Bobby Simpson,” to come back for a cameo captaincy stint.
Either way, as a nation, our name has been slurred, and as a nation, we must be seen to react.
The first step is: Smith must go.