One of the great Test innings from Ben Stokes has seen England win the Third Test by one wicket- but the Aussies had two golden chances to retain the Ashes.
Sports administration is a dog eat dog world.
Now, I’m not here to argue that the Cape Town Three were in the right. On the contrary, I’ll look straight down the barrel of camera one and say it: they were wrong. They tried to cheat. It was against the rules.
They were caught, then were sanctioned by the ICC in accordance with their internationally ratified code of conduct. Note that the “I” in ICC stands for International.
And, I’ll point out, they’re a body that was in no way involved in last year’s contract negotiations between the Australian Cricketers Association and Cricket Australia. They haven’t got a dog in this fight.
Ok, take a deep breath. There’s a premise to this post – it’s that the punishments doled out to Smith et al by our national body were manifestly unfair.
I’m not here to argue, as I find it logically self-evident. Either take it as fact or rattle your pitchforks somewhere else. Now, why would CA want to punish Warner and Smith so harshly? Humour me a little.
Flash back to August 2017. After a bitter 10-month pay dispute the players association has emerged victorious. The attempted contract coup by CEO James Sutherland has been brutally slapped down, and the existing revenue-sharing model has been retained.
The result was a win for the players – with a huge increase in funding for the both the international and domestic games, as well as for women and grass roots cricket.
Alongside Chief Executive of the Players Association, Alistair Nicholson, two senior baggy greens had shown their teeth in the fight.
Steve Smith was a figurehead for player advocacy. He claimed the moral high ground early – a station which he never relinquished.
But easily the most vocal critic of CAs tactics was the attack dog himself, David Warner. He aired sentiments ranging from mild dissatisfaction to outright derision.
By the end, it was inane to point out that the relationship between the players and their government, sorry, administrative body, had been seriously damaged.
On a personal level, Sutherland had come out licking his wounds. At best, he’d been painted as an opportunistic corporate wolf who’d been cruelled by his environment. At worst, he was a harmless sad-eyed mongrel that was all bark and no bite.
Step forward the present day. After haplessly brooding for the southern summer, CA gets thrown a bone here – they get their chance to be top dog again!
Hurriedly, they reassert their dominance and reclaim the moral high ground. They banish their challengers and install a neutered lap-dog instead.
Am I being too cynical? I hope so. But what if the dots connect? If being a human has taught me anything – it’s to think the worst first, and even then, you’ll often be surprised.