Ball Tampering Fiasco: Was the punishment really harsh?

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The Steve Smith press conference was like a room full of mirrors, each bearing a reflection of his hollow, jaded self. There are times when one simply can’t face one’s own reflection. There have been countless occasions where he’s been feted like a real super-hero, having struck hundreds that have breathtakingly revived cricket and Australia from gallows of darkness.
Then, there was today. The highs of batting glories now all behind him. In front of him, a whole crew of curious eyeballs, staring into a product of muddled thinking. The Steve Smith Press conference at Sydney was a blockbuster where the rush was concerned but a magnum opus of sadness, truth be told.
As the former Australian captain sat in front of a gathered crowd in Sydney, owning up to his illicit action and offering a heartfelt apology, there must have been a feeling of hurting emptiness. His press conference, his final before he plunges into a punishing period of cricketing obscurity, Steve Smith, the man who has been in charge, was being charged, having committed the cricketing equivalent of a heinous crime.

Steve Smith Press Conference 

Steve Smith wasn’t merely in a press conference in Sydney. To his troubled self, he found the ensuing commotion of explanations, questions, and uncertainty. It was the feeling that greets a culprit who is charged with crimes against humanity.
For Australia, bringing maliciousness to cricket is tantamount to committing an unpardonable crime. Perhaps that is what offers a fitting explanation to the aftermath of the infamous Cape Town ball-tampering saga. Nothing else would suffice. Nothing else would do. You have to be castigated; you’ve got to abdicate the position sitting on which you’ve tainted the spirit of a game that for Australia is a shared passion. As also a bond like no other. Therefore, it was both saddening and unsurprising that Smith broke down as he apologized and took full ownership of his actions. It is a pity though that the real mastermind and someone who literally ‘tutored’ the novice cricketing brain of Bancroft, Warner, wasn’t that implicitly in the center of the storm that aroused scorn for Smith.
David Warner, you would feel, is no stranger to controversy. For Smith, the saga was soul shattering. This is an episode that generates anguish and loss of faith to the lovers of the game of an immense magnitude.
This, in effect, arose dual feelings; you were sad for him despite being hurt by his deeds. The last an entire Australia wept was at the passing of its bright son: Phil Hughes. It was a colossal tragedy. Today, there was weeping. It’s not always that a Steve Smith breaks down. But a few hours ago, when Steve Smith broke down, he didn’t have anyone sobbing for company. There was no togetherness; just bitter isolation. Perhaps that fittingly explains the difference between the demise of a person and fall from glory.
In somber tone were the following confessions muttered, carrying pain, highlighting an inner strife. “To all my team-mates, to fans of cricket all over the world, to all Australians who are disappointed and angry, I am sorry.” He would go on to add, “Cricket is the greatest sport in the world. It’s been my life and I hope it can be again.”

Mighty repercussion

As witnesses who were aghast for seeing a mature, capable, match-winning cricketer in tears is never a comfortable feeling, it was apparent that the ‘crime’ had been accepted and that repentance was being passionately sought.
The result of an extensive period mired in controversy sees match-winning names in Australia- Steve Smith and David Warner- banned for 12 months. Cameron Bancroft, perceptibly for holding a young career, has been done away for 9 months. But in the wake of the rise of uninterrupted fuming reactions, not merely restricted to South Africa or Australia, covering the length and breadths of our world through social media, it is not too difficult to understand why Australians are angry and seething in disbelief.

Ball tampering is inflicting undue gnawing pain on your opponents.

And there’s reasonable logic to understand why so. If you are a true Australian, someone for whom cricket may not be life but to whom losing feels like death, the punishment extended to Australia’s current bandits may even seem slightly mediocre. But may not seem undue or unjust. Here is what is common knowledge and at the conferring of the strong reprimand seems to be bold and clear.
Australians like winning. They like owning a competition. They like dominance and more often than not succeed dominating. They succeed in castrating nearly anything that lies in between the path to a win. Being on the back-foot happens only in cricket, not in its result.
Heads hanging in shame are quite simply an intolerable sight of cruelty. It’s unbearable. Moreover, resulting from an act that goes against the spirit of righteousness and fair conduct is tantamount to backstabbing Australians. They felt the same when Shane Warne and Mark Waugh brought them infamy. They are feeling it now. Therefore, the temper, the scorn is not unjustified.
But having said that, having seen the dramatic scenes amplified by a Steve Smith breakdown, one has got to ask: is the punishment a tad bit harsh. In fact, is it too harsh?
At the core, you will have to agree, it looks rather baffling for several ball-tampering episodes have taken place in the past. But not all cricketing bodies or administrations think alike. There are myriad brains at work and therefore, different priorities. Cricket Australia has taken a fair albeit harsh stand against not one but three of their easily recognizable figures; two among them doubtless match-winners. Unfortunately, for the perpetrators, they happen to be the captain and vice-captain and hence the media rebuke calling them the ‘leadership group.’ While a 12-month ban certainly seems very strict in terms of its outline, considering that Australia is due for a significant amount of cricket in the next few months, all leading to the all-important Cricket World Cup next month, you’ve got to somewhere respect the decision of the cricket board.
If key figures of cricket- specifically from a leadership position- bring the game bad name then just what will the younger generations learn? There’s a lot at stake in the realm of passionate competition. Not merely the eventual results. But without doubt, the treatment of the sport and it’s encompassing spirit.
It also reaffirms a fact that might not seem too untoward after all. Maybe the wrongdoers in the past got away a bit easily. It’s not the first time that a clique of cricketing brains got together and engaged with ball tampering.

Reactions of Cricket Stars

Shane Warne
“Let’s take the emotion out of it. We are all feeling angry and embarrassed. But you need a level head and you shouldn’t destroy someone unless they deserve to be destroyed. Their actions were indefendable, and they need to be severely punished. But I don’t think a one year ban is the answer.
“My punishment would have been to miss the fourth Test match, a huge fine, and be sacked as captain and vice-captain. But they should still be allowed to play after that.”
Chris Gayle
Oi Oi Oi! It’s not my business but it’s done and dusted!
I think 1 year is harsh! But to the 3 youngsters, y’all gonna have to live with this – reflect quickly and know there’s a lot of life ahead so don’t stop here! Feel free to come see me in Jamaica.
Sachin Tendulkar
Cricket has been known as a gentleman’s game. It’s a game that I believe should be played in the purest form. Whatever has happened is unfortunate but the right decision has been taken to uphold the integrity of the game. Winning is important but the way you win is more important.
Michael Vaughan
Steve Smith I think is a good guy who made a huge mistake … He needed punishing but I think this is too harsh … Bancroft who I don’t know was led astray but deserved punishing but again too harshly IMO … The other guy I really don’t care about …
Harsha Bhogle
I honestly do not believe any other country would have handed its captain and lead player a 12 month ban for attempted ball-tampering.
Kevin Pietersen
Just seen ’s press conference. As a parent, I’m gutted for him & his family! Shout me down if you want, but I’m speaking as a parent! It will get better mate!

Ball-tampering in the past

These have shaken, stirred and attempted to bring undue advantage to their respective sides.

Player Year Misconduct Punishment extended by ICC
Mike Atherton 1994 The former English captain applied dirt from the pocket on to the cricket ball He was fined 2000 pounds
Waqar Younis 2000 The Pakistani pacer was accused of tampering with the ball’s seam Suspended for a single game
Sachin Tendulkar 2001 The master-blaster was also accused of attempting to tamper the ball Suspended for one game, later declared free of charges
Rahul Dravid 2004 Former India captain applied a lozenge on the shiny side attempting to aid swing Fined 50% of his match fee
Pakistan Team 2006 An entire team was accused and charged with ball tampering Five penalty runs were awarded to opponents- England
Shahid Afridi 2010 In a rather bizarre turn of events, the fiery batsman bit the ball Banned for next 2 T20s
Faf Du Plessis 2013 Bringing the ball in contact with his trousers’ zip in an attempt to scuff it Fined 50% of his match-fee, also awarding 5 penalty runs to Pakistan
Vernon Philander 2014 Tampering the ball Fined 75% of match fee
Faf Du Plessis 2016 Responsible for the famous mint-gate, applying saliva from the mint of gum to the ball 100% match fee deducted

In an age of seamless cricketing correspondence where it doesn’t take over a minute or two to have one’s views registered, it wasn’t too surprising for the contemporary and past bastion of cricketers to offer their views on the dramatic saga.

In conclusion

Cricket brings boundless joys and to an entire community of stakeholders, not just the cricketers involved or the spectators in the grounds. There are the fans you play for. There are the teams you seek mighty pride in representing and there’s an entire world that seeks in your ceremonious accomplishments a reason of unbridled enjoyment. By seamless participation, you bring a world together.
You don’t merely play for personal glories or team accomplishments alone. Your acts and efforts are subjected to intense scrutiny. And are lauded for driving inspiration and in turn, for changing the context of myriad situations. Therefore, it isn’t too difficult to understand the often strained relationship between the world and those who bring corrosiveness to the sport, tainting its fabric. The Steve Smith and David Warner saga, unfathomably disturbing and terse in its eventual outcome that it may be should be upheld as a milestone judgment.
The ruling will go a long way to show future and contemporary generations the plight the sport suffers from and the duress it brings to an entire establishment when you act against the spirit of the competition. Even in this scenario, cricket prevailed, as it should have.

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