As the furore of the Australian ball tampering saga reaches a crescendo the brave ramifications handed out by Cricket Australia has shaken the game to its foundations for their severity.
There is a mixed response from cricket followers worldwide many who question the lengthy periods on the sidelines for at least two of their best cricketers on the planet. Others say it is the best thing to happen if the game is to be rid of cheats who bring the game into disrepute.
Cricket over the years and administrators including the world governing ICC have been accused of double standards depending who is in the firing line. And the ICC’s continued slap on the wrists punishment in this instance has been viewed as another attempt to look at things from a marketing perspective rather than one that maintains the game’s integrity.
Whatever the circumstances that are considered before punishment for misdeeds is handed down it is in the vital interest of the game that the administrators have a control of any situation without fear or favour or their lack of it will only diminish interest and following by the general public who are the ultimate sources of income to its survival.
As the findings and interviews have now been completed by the banished trio from South Africa there is still a lingering hostile reaction to David Warner’s stubborn mentality and refusal to admit that he may have been the mastermind if the dastardly act.
When the wind blows over the whole sorry episode and calm is restored, Australia will always be viewed with a questioning eye by cricket followers worldwide and the shame of it will never go away.
But what needs to happen in the interim is the need for forgiveness and support to Smith and Bancroft in particular as they negotiate the ramifications of a silly mistake that has magnified their immaturity and shortsightedness in the events of day three at Newlands.
The shattered and broken Australian former skipper is in dire need of counselling for a period as he collects the pieces of a destroyed reputation and tragically, when he was in the midst of plaudits from around the globe for his magnificent performances with the bat that has him rated as the number one in Test cricket. His actions since gaining captaincy has been questioned on more than one occasion in India and a few other occasions.
But Cricket Australia were steadfast in their defence of him instead of reining in what has now become the biggest scandal the game has witnessed and turned a tide of opinion against the team from the Prime Minister to other former players who donned the baggy green with distinction.
The fierce rivalry between the two nations is another case in point where the history of current South African skipper Faf Du Plessis who was sprung twice and shamed for similar ball abuse and Vernon Philander once, was always going to be a ‘get even’ thing if the Aussies dared to overstep the rules governing the game. And, shamefully and foolishly they did.
It is rumoured that there will be appeals against the lengthy bans imposed on them. But appealing will be foolish if they expect to rush back into a game they have brought into disrepute not just for themselves but the country as well.
Riding the crest of a wave as a brilliant batsman and leader despite many questioning his immaturity when selected to lead Australia, Steve Smith has proved that his style of thinking outside the box does not necessarily apply to methods of winning which led to his downfall.
This, in a country brimming with talent and unlike many other nations, never needing to look far for handy replacements.
What now needs to happen is for Australia to re-evaluate their style and intimidator approach which has been the instigator of personal exchanges between them and their opponents leading to the desperate mindset to win at all costs.
Cricket Australia can take credit for the severity of the bans they have imposed and try to recapture the faith and respect of the rest of the world which up to now have regarded Australia as the benchmark for all things cricket for many decades.