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Scars of redemption: A South African's perspective of the ball-tampering fiasco

Cameron Bancroft of Australia talks to the umpire. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Roar Guru
28th March, 2018
4

I am a proud South African and hate losing to the ‘wizards of Oz’. Growing up in the nineties, it was painful watching Glenn McGrath, the Waugh brothers, and Shane Warne murder us at will. I and most of my generation are still haunted by that ’99 semi-final with that run-out.

Then, Hansie Cronje shamed the country with match-fixing. With my belief in our sporting heroes in tatters, I watched the 2003 World Cup as a disillusioned fan.

It was only after Graeme Smith’s teams beat England and Australia that I followed the game in the early morning hours.

This brought me back to watching the third Test in Cape Town, and what was supposed to be an emphatic win and great celebration, which felt rather empty given Australia’s collapse – losing ten wickets for about fifty in the final session.

Understandably jaded and perhaps despondent at the start of play, I really hoped for the initial fight that David Warner and Cameron Bancroft showed. Sadly, it never occurred and never has a victory felt so hollow.

With the game played in the worst possible spirit, I realize Cricket Australia’s difficult decision. However, I felt robbed of a contest – not because of the ball tampering, but because of all the drama surrounding it.

David Warner

(Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

I am glad Bancroft has not been thrown to the wolves, but fear for the worst for Smith. I’m of the opinion Warner is hiding away.

It seems Mitchell Starc was identified before the series as Australia’s trump card with swing and reverse swing bowling.

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I believe Warner was designated to work on the ball and that South Africa presumed that it was illegal.

The coverage from Supersport put a lot of emphasis on the possibility. It seems Warner felt the pressure and passed the buck to poor and less experienced Bancroft. And that resulted in what looked like naughty schoolboys getting caught.

I get that it was too clumsy to deny and applaud the honesty of Smith. Darren Lehmann and Steve Smith should come out with the whole bag of potatoes. Expose and apologize like they’ve done to help move the game forward.

How did shaming Hansie Cronje help South African Cricket? A few years ago year we had the Ram20 (20/20) domestic competition tainted with match-fixing and a handful of players receiving bans.

So did we learn from Hansie Cronje crying before the King Commission? No, we did not!

But rather to unlock the truth and educate players on embarrassing mistakes for the better, for the better, we shamed a player and captain to no benefit of the game.

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So, here’s my wish for Smith and company – I hope my conspiracy theory is a fairytale and that it was a one-session brain fart.

I doubt it, but one can hope. Hopefully Smith will continue in his captaincy, campaigning fair play and the spirit of the game. I hope that Faf du Plessis will join him and say ‘you know what, I’ve been there – desperate to win and used the zipper on my pants.’

Winning shouldn’t be that important – playing hard and fair should be! I hope that for the final Test in Johannesburg CSA and that CA will sit down with both squads and have a talk about what was unpleasant for us all.

Maybe have a braai and a few beers and play the fourth Test as if to showcase talent – an exhibition match if you will.

I hope South Africa wins a closely contested fourth Test to finally win a series on home soil since re-admission.

But most of all, I’d like to get back to just the cricket and who takes the big moments while looking forward to Australia’s recovery to beat the English in England.

Long may the rivalry continue.