When the news of the cheating and ball tampering by the Australian cricketers first broke out, my response was the same as many. “These arrogant Aussies with their sense of superiority should be brought down and should be handed the harshest punishment “
Definitely, part of the reason for such a feeling was the fact that Australian cricketers of the past had got away with their arrogance, unsportsmanlike behaviour on and off the field and had many a times justified their crass morally repugnant behaviour as an essential ingredient for success on the field. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Bwn-uAWdoQ)
I grew up in times when the Australian cricketers were winning all tournaments but at the same time, behaved as if they could get away with any of their on field behaviour. Seeing Michael Slater admonishing Rahul Dravid for no mistake of his ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8dkLrm5ALI) and Glenn Mcgrath sledging and gesticulating aggressively to Sarwan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN4RU4LW2IM) and several such incidents have created an impression about Australian cricketers and an expectation that even when shown their obvious mistakes, the Aussie cricketers will not own up to them and be remorseful.
That is what I expected from the current episode too. I had expected them to continue defending their actions with some weird rationale just like Steve Waugh did about the sledging techniques as a form of “mental disintegration “of the opposition.
But the response from the cricketers has been very refreshing . Seeing the players in the press conferences after being sent off abruptly from a tour, especially Steve Smith, I can’t feel more sorry for them.
The fact is that they are being penalized for “cheating”. The huge backlash they are receiving from the Australians and the world over is for intentionally trying to cheat. But then, are they the first? Are they the worst cheats?
Of course, what they tried to do was in contravention of the rules of the game but then, how many times have we seen players of all sport play within the rules but contrary to the spirit and blatantly cheat in a quest to win at any cost.
- Aren’t the countless batsmen who know they have nicked the ball to the wicketkeeper but don’t walk not intentionally cheating?
- Isn’t the fielder who claims a catch even when he knows it is possible that he may have taken it on the bounce not intentionally cheating?
- Isn’t this an example of intentionally cheating? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afQvCaPd4t8
- Aren’t all these episodes intentionally cheating? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxiBX6D4mxQ
- Taking examples from other sports, aren’t all those footballers who fall over for no reason without any contact with the tackler only to earn a free kick or penalty not intentionally cheating?
How many of these players have faced such harsh penalties and ignominy as the current trio?
I feel Steve Smith and the others are having to face the backlash which is not entirely due to their doing. There is a legacy effect from the previous Australian players and teams. The on field behaviour of the previous teams, their treating of the opposition teams and the players, their arrogant justifications for the same have all been significant factors in creating the frenzy within and outside Australia and had reached a tipping point and unfortunately, Smith, Warner and Bancroft are having to face the punishment for that.
My take is that Lehman had to go as did the players responsible for the decision. But it is debatable whether the quantum of punishment in the form of an international ban for 12 months is appropriate.
I for one, feel it is too harsh.