Team sport is often referred to as a ship. The kind where all members must work together with the captain at the wheel. Well, here’s the thing I’ve learned about team ships the last couple of days… Icebergs can come in all forms and just like The Titanic, once you hit them, there’s no going back.
For the men who wear the baggy green, the iceberg came in the form of a tiny strip of yellow tape. Now for those of you who are rolling your eyes, because you’ve realised I’m going to put my 2 cents in here and you don’t want to hear anymore about the issue because it’s just a game and not a big deal, I’d like to remind you of someone
Everyone who had ever owned a cricket bat, whether they had to dust off cobwebs or pull it straight from the sports bag, put one out. We were united with the same passion and empathy that in this case, is anger and shock. I have to admit, on Sunday morning when I saw Steve Smith’s name trending on Twitter, this was the last thing I had expected.
We’ve probably all seen the footage many times. Bancroft, moving the ball towards his shorts in a vain attempt to disguise what we know to be actions that constitute cheating, a word that Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland seems unable to say. But that’s another point…
I’m going to say something now that I don’t think has been said; I feel terrible for Cameron Bancroft. Yeah, that’s right, you heard me. Now before you all rush at me in the comments, saying he’s the one that did it and get all outraged at me, please let me explain.
Cameron Bancroft was the most junior member of the Australian Cricket Team, at 24 years old. We know from the initial press conference (which you can check out below) that he just happened to be in the vicinity at the time Steve Smith and David Warner were hatching the plan. He himself admits he “was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” When asked by a journalist whether he felt at all pressured or coerced into the situation, he was quick to deny but did admit to feeling nervous because of the cameras and the potential consequences of being caught. Obviously, he’s not really going to say a whole lot more for both damage control reasons and the fact that Smith was sitting right next to him at the time but that did cause alarm bells to go off in my head
I want you now to put yourselves in Cameron Bancroft’s shoes. Imagine you’re in the vicinity of your captain and his 2IC when let’s say, you get called over. They ask you if you’ll be the man to carry out an act of ball tampering, because your team’s desperate for wickets, it’s just a piece of tape. The only trick is to do it without getting caught. Are you in? Granted, Bancroft should have been strong enough to say no, however, I would wager there aren’t many of us who could do it when push came to shove. You’ve made it to the Australian team. Your captain, a man whose judgment you trust is being hailed as the next Bradman. Just by being in this side with him, your name will go down in history (well it certainly has now!) and then there’s David Warner. A man, whom by all accounts is a larger than life character, the kind of person we’ve seen, from this test alone that has a short fuse and could be potentially very intimidating. It’s not so easy to say no, after all, is it?
Steve Smith and David Warner, on the other hand are a different story. The consensus, which may or may not be accurate is that Warner was the ringleader. So if that’s the case, what the hell was Steve Smith thinking? Why, on earth would he get on board with an idea, posed by a man who we all know was already not in the best frame of mind, based on previous incidents? Why would Steve Smith risk everything, including the reputation he worked so hard to build (which has now been obliterated by the mother of all brainsnaps) for something he had to have known would have dire consequences if realised? To that effect, how could they think it would not be realised when we have cameras trained to analyse and dissect every angle of every movement made on the pitch? How dare he throw Cameron Bancroft under the bus like that, by forcing him to explain what happened? How dare he implicate and bring into question the integrity of several other players by using the term ‘leadership team?’
Steve Smith kept saying in the press conference that it would never happen again on his watch? Surely, he wasn’t ever under the illusion that there would be a second chance for him to be a leader after this? It was always bound to be a case of “I’m sorry, the old Steve can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause he’s dead!” He will forever be the player who was ALMOST a legend. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not the runs on the board that people remember, it’s the kind of person you were.
And I’m sorry but if you are an elite sportsperson, (I’m looking at you David Warner), it’s not just about you. You have a responsibility to every kid out there, who is playing cricket, who looks up to you.
You have responsibilities to every viewer who has ever tuned in, to your own family and to the family of cricketers who have come before you, who are now having to fight off the shadows of doubt you’ve created across our history.
WHAT THE …….. HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO. Please tell me this is a bad dream.
— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) March 24, 2018
Correct me if I’m wrong, but let’s just rewind for a second to the idea of a ‘leadership team’
So… the coach isn’t involved in that group of people?
OK, I can understand that Darren Lehman might not have known of this incident specifically but he is deeply responsible for creating the culture that made them think this was a good idea, first of all, and then that they were bulletproof enough to get away with it. Everyone talks about moving forward but you can’t do that if Lehman’s still coach. An apple rots from the top.
May I suggest moving forward, Cricket Australia that you employ what is known and excuse my language here as a “NO DICKHEADS” policy, made famous by the wonderful Paul Roos and Sydney Swans at the height of their success, steeped in Bloods culture. If you step out of line, no exceptions, you’re gone. That’s it.
You need a fresh start and you need it now.
We will forgive, eventually. We won’t forget. But there’s a lot of work to be done. A lot of damage and disillusionment is here because this brings into question what we as Australians value and the face we present to the world. Good luck fixing this mess. I think you’re going to need it.