Infotainment Factory: Why 'stupid' Aussies ignored tampering warning

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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Why 'stupid' Aussies ignored tampering warning


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Former captain Ian Chappell says Australia’s decision to tamper with the ball during last year’s Cape Town Test looks “even more stupid” with the benefit of 12 months’ hindsight.

Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended for a year, and Cameron Bancroft nine months, after Australia’s attempts to use sandpaper to rough up the ball were exposed during the Test against South Africa a year ago this week.

Smith later claimed that Cape Town was the first time he had been aware that the side was tampering with the ball.

This is part of a series of articles to mark the anniversary of the ball-tampering scandal. Keep an eye on nine.com.au and wwos.com.au through the week for more.

Twelve months on that assertion remains one of the biggest points of contention in the whole sorry saga.

Chappell and many others say the Australian team were aware ball-tampering was on the radar of the umpires and broadcasters in the weeks leading up to Cape Town and that both sides’ treatment of the ball was being more closely watched than usual.

But it’s not a universal point-of-view, with Mike Haysman, a leading commentator who called the series for SuperSport, telling Wide World of Sports “there’s no way it was a set-up”.

With the series tied at 1-1 heading into the third Test, South Africa had taken a 56 run first innings lead in Cape Town, putting Australia under pressure to fight back in the second innings to keep alive their hopes of winning the four-match series.

Chappell, in a wide ranging discussion with fellow Nine commentators Mark Taylor and Ian Healy to mark the anniversary of the scandal, was typically forthright in his assessment.

Steve Smith

“I think it’s even more stupid, the more information that I’ve got,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“They were warned that they were being watched during the first Test, and this blew up in the third Test.

“The answer they gave was ‘we’re only doing what South Africa are doing’ which tends to make a mockery of the statement when they were caught that this was the first time it had ever happened.”

Taylor says the fact the team apparently ignored the warning indicates they underestimated the gravity of the situation. Previous instances of ball tampering, including those involving national captains Mike Atherton and Faf du Plessis, had resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist from the sport’s governing body.

The former skipper says Steve Smith’s emotional media conference when he returned to Australia is probably the point where he realised the enormity of his predicament.

“It adds to the view that the players and the support staff had no idea how big this was potentially going to be if they got caught,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports.

“I suspect they thought there was the possibility of being caught, but as we’d seen in the past there was only a fine of 50 percent of your match fee, or at the worse a one-game suspension, and they were probably prepared to risk that.

Steve Smith

“I think Steve Smith’s reaction when he came back to Australia, that was probably the build-up of – ‘wow, this has gone from at worst one match, to a year of my life’, and I think that’s part of the reason you saw that reaction from Smith.”

For Healy, the ill-fated media conference that Smith and Bancroft fronted after play sums up one of the most shameful days in Australian cricket history.

“The stupidity hasn’t waned for me either,” Healy told Wide World of Sports.

“They were advised strongly not to go to that press conference but to go back and see the vision as a minimum before they did the press conference, but instead they went straight to the press conference. That lack of understanding was massive and paramount.”

The legendary wicketkeeper says it’s a poor reflection that Australia didn’t back their bowling line-up to get the job done without resorting to ball-tampering.

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon had just completed a record-breaking Ashes series, marking the first time in history four bowlers had combined to take all their side’s wickets in a five Test series.

David Warner

Healy believes the tension earlier in the series, including a stairwell altercation between Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, also played a part.

“They just must have been so desperate to stay in the game they couldn’t even trust their basic skills,” Healy said.

“I’m sure Warner was tired, and he was probably cranky from the run in with de Kock earlier in the series.

“There was a whole loss of perspective on what’s right and wrong. They should have been playing as hard as possible, but if you lose, well, you lose.

“Losing shouldn’t be the end of the world.”

Former captain Ian Chappell says Australia’s decision to tamper with the ball during last year’s Cape Town Test looks “even more stupid” with the benefit of 12 months’ hindsight.

Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended for a year, and Cameron Bancroft nine months, after Australia’s attempts to use sandpaper to rough up the ball were exposed during the Test against South Africa a year ago this week.

Smith later claimed that Cape Town was the first time he had been aware that the side was tampering with the ball.

This is part of a series of articles to mark the anniversary of the ball-tampering scandal. Keep an eye on nine.com.au and wwos.com.au through the week for more.

Twelve months on that assertion remains one of the biggest points of contention in the whole sorry saga.

Chappell and many others say the Australian team were aware ball-tampering was on the radar of the umpires and broadcasters in the weeks leading up to Cape Town and that both sides’ treatment of the ball was being more closely watched than usual.

But it’s not a universal point-of-view, with Mike Haysman, a leading commentator who called the series for SuperSport, telling Wide World of Sports “there’s no way it was a set-up”.

With the series tied at 1-1 heading into the third Test, South Africa had taken a 56 run first innings lead in Cape Town, putting Australia under pressure to fight back in the second innings to keep alive their hopes of winning the four-match series.

Chappell, in a wide ranging discussion with fellow Nine commentators Mark Taylor and Ian Healy to mark the anniversary of the scandal, was typically forthright in his assessment.

Steve Smith

“I think it’s even more stupid, the more information that I’ve got,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“They were warned that they were being watched during the first Test, and this blew up in the third Test.

“The answer they gave was ‘we’re only doing what South Africa are doing’ which tends to make a mockery of the statement when they were caught that this was the first time it had ever happened.”

Taylor says the fact the team apparently ignored the warning indicates they underestimated the gravity of the situation. Previous instances of ball tampering, including those involving national captains Mike Atherton and Faf du Plessis, had resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist from the sport’s governing body.

The former skipper says Steve Smith’s emotional media conference when he returned to Australia is probably the point where he realised the enormity of his predicament.

“It adds to the view that the players and the support staff had no idea how big this was potentially going to be if they got caught,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports.

“I suspect they thought there was the possibility of being caught, but as we’d seen in the past there was only a fine of 50 percent of your match fee, or at the worse a one-game suspension, and they were probably prepared to risk that.

Steve Smith

“I think Steve Smith’s reaction when he came back to Australia, that was probably the build-up of – ‘wow, this has gone from at worst one match, to a year of my life’, and I think that’s part of the reason you saw that reaction from Smith.”

For Healy, the ill-fated media conference that Smith and Bancroft fronted after play sums up one of the most shameful days in Australian cricket history.

“The stupidity hasn’t waned for me either,” Healy told Wide World of Sports.

“They were advised strongly not to go to that press conference but to go back and see the vision as a minimum before they did the press conference, but instead they went straight to the press conference. That lack of understanding was massive and paramount.”

The legendary wicketkeeper says it’s a poor reflection that Australia didn’t back their bowling line-up to get the job done without resorting to ball-tampering.

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon had just completed a record-breaking Ashes series, marking the first time in history four bowlers had combined to take all their side’s wickets in a five Test series.

David Warner

Healy believes the tension earlier in the series, including a stairwell altercation between Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, also played a part.

“They just must have been so desperate to stay in the game they couldn’t even trust their basic skills,” Healy said.

“I’m sure Warner was tired, and he was probably cranky from the run in with de Kock earlier in the series.

“There was a whole loss of perspective on what’s right and wrong. They should have been playing as hard as possible, but if you lose, well, you lose.

“Losing shouldn’t be the end of the world.”

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