The ICC is still pondering ball-tampering suspensions

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will be taking a very special interest in the ICC’s upcoming decision regarding future ball-tamperers.

    Having spent arguably the worst two months of their lives living with 12-month suspensions for Smith, and Warner, and nine for Bancroft, for the Cape Town ball-tampering episode, it will be very interesting how the ICC will view the act in future.

    It was an episode, even cheating, but not a scandal as the media trumpeted right round the cricketing world.

    Is sledging scandalous, is it scandalous to appeal when the bowler knows the batsman hasn’t knicked it?

    Of course not, nor is ball-tampering.

    But the ICC said at the time it viewed tampering as a serious offence, and would do something about it, despite the fact it had belted the first official tamperer Mike Atherton with a wet lettuce leaf in 1994, and dished out the same ‘treatment’ to Sachin Tendulkar, Inzaman ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi and two-time offender Faf du Plessis ever since.

    The ICC has been discussing the future for two months, and like everything the ICC does it hastens slowly, at other times rigor mortis sets in.

    Cameron Bancroft

    Cameron Bancroft of Australia talks to the umpire. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)

    But a decision is nigh according to the ICC’s CEO David Richardson – sometime in June, or July.

    If it’s the latter that’s four months of discussion, hardly riveting, but vital to Smith, Warner and Bancroft.

    If the maximum suspension is three, or four months, the Aussie trio will have every right to have their suspensions reduced to that number.

    Having said that, Cricket Australia had little option to hand down the hefty suspensions to the trio, no doubt whipped along by the media-induced scandal making blazing headlines on both the front and back pages of newspapers, plus leading the television and radio coverage.

    It reached saturation point, with scandal the key word.

    But ball-tampering isn’t nearly as serious as match fixing, so let’s see what the ICC eventually come up with to cover ball-tampering, and any other incident viewed a bringing the game into disrepute.

    The key ICC figures are David Richardson and Anil Kumble.

    Richardson is a former South African keeper who played 42 Tests and 122 ODIs from 1991 to 1998.

    As a lawyer he managed cricketers after retirement until he was appointed the ICC’s General Manager in 2002, and CEO in 2012.

    He’s a good man, and a good administrator, as is Kumble who is chairman of the powerful ICC Cricket Committee.

    An Indian legend of 132 Tests, and 277 ODIs between 1990 and 2008 – and a former captain who holds a special record with Jim Laker as the only two in Test match history to capture all 10 wickets in an innings.

    Kumble’s committee consists of Andrew Strauss, Mahela Jayawardene, Rahul Dravid, Darren Lehmann, Shaun Pollock, Richard Kettleborough and Ranjan Madugalle to name a few.

    There are plenty of heavy hitters in that lot, but to Smith, Warner and Bancroft, they are the most important people on the planet.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (34)

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 6:07am
      TommyH said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      Im sorry David but its no good playing down a ball tampering conspiracy. Its awful and should never happen ! You cant compare it to when a bowler appeals for a nick that was some other noise. This article is plain wrong !

      • Columnist

        May 22nd 2018 @ 8:18am
        David Lord said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        TommyH, I got it plain right. Why were previous ball-tamperings never described as scandals?

        Why were previous ball tamperings “heavily” hit by match fee fines, which to current Test cricketers are the equivalent of a big party?

        Why did Inzaman ul-Haq get four games suspension for bringing the game into disrepute when the Pakistanis were accused of tampering,

        So Inzi refused to take the field to set up the only Test result as a forfeit.

        The result was then changed to a draw, then again a Test win for England – utter chaos.

        How did the only two-time offender Faf du Plessis get away with pleading not guilty twice when there was crystal clear television evidence proving his guilt. Why did he only lose his match fees, and then have the arrogance to describe the Australian’s tampering as far worse than his?

        No TommyH, the ICC never gave any thought to genuine heavy sentences, it took Cricket Australia to do that.

        Let’s see what the ICC comes up with in June, or July.

        Why the governing body couldn’t be more specific in the time frame beggars belief.

        But that’s the ICC.

        How was Sachin Tendulkar found guilty, and in typical fashion the Indian Board wouldn’t accept the decision, describing it as racism? The charge was dropped.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 6:30pm
          Rupesh said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          But when ICC gave the aussie trio more punishments than other offenders. Please before writing some article , apply some common sense. When Faf was in trouble Warner and co. gave many interviews about how they are the standard of Cricketing World, how they play hard and fair but never cross the imaginary line. Now when Faf told something ,you are calling him arrogant. The whining aussiii

        • Roar Guru

          May 23rd 2018 @ 6:47pm
          Pom in Oz said | May 23rd 2018 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

          You cannot compare using a lolly to assist in the allowed practice of applying saliva and sweat to polish a ball to using sandpaper to rough the other side up. There isn’t any other way of roughing a ball up except by out and out cheating. That is the scandal, David…

          • Roar Rookie

            May 25th 2018 @ 9:10am
            Pedro The Fisherman said | May 25th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

            What? Both the use of lolly induced saliva and lolly itself and sandpaper are intended to alter the ball’s performance.
            The lolly shines one side to help it swing. The sandpaper roughens one side to help it swing.
            See the similarity?

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 6:27am
      DLKN said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      Once again David, you’ve conflated the ball tampering suspensions from the ICC with the Cricket Australia punishments and completely missed the point.

      CA gave these blokes the larger penalties only in part for the ball fiddling.

      Read CA’s published reasons, and you’ll see that the additional suspension time relates to the plotting (principally by Warner, but also Bancroft and the non-intervention by Smith), the ball tampering itself, then the on-field attempts to hide it from the umpires, then outright lying to the umpires, then making misleading statements to the media, and other issues as well.

      One day we’ll get the full story about who knew what and when they knew it, but we can only for now rely on what facts are in the public domain.

      If the ICC changes the ball-tampering penalties, these blokes will have no right to seek to reduce their own suspensions, firstly unless the ICC makes the ruling retrospective and secondly because any changes the ICC makes are likely to be increases. Like from 2 tests to 4 or more tests. These three blokes have already served at least half of the official ICC sanctions by missing the final test against RSA.

      I don’t think anyone has an issue with the suspensions handed out by the ICC. People like you and others take issue with the CA penalties. I don’t – I reckon they were lucky, considering the shame their cheating and subsequent dishonesty brought on our game and our international reputation, the directly related loss of sponsorship and public support, and that CA had the option of punting them for up to 2 years.

      So yes, let the ICC do what they will with ball tampering suspensions, and let’s hope they are harsh penalties.

      But that decision has little or nothing to do with the length of time out of the game these three traitors have to serve. It’s time for the apologists for Smith, Warner and Bancroft to suck it up.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:00am
        Paul said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        you were on a roll until your last paragraph DKLN. These guys aren’t “traitors”, they’re 3 cricketers who made a series of stupid mistakes and are paying for it now.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:19am
          jameswm said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          And in what way are they not sucking it up? I haven’t heard them complaining.

          The part of the suspension I think should change is that I think they should be allowed to play Shield cricket. I think CA got that wrong. I’d have said 1 year ban from international cricket, below that level is permitted. It still reads as a 1-year ban.

          • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:48am
            DLKN said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

            I was talking about their apologists, not the players themselves. The suspended players do indeed appear to be copping their punishments without public complaint. And so they should. It’s their apologists, like David, who need to suck it up.

            I don’t agree that they should be allowed to play any form of first-class cricket, including Shield games. These blokes pleaded guilty to multiple breaches of the CA Code of Conduct, and then elected not to appeal either the verdicts or the punishments. In that case, we must assume that they accept what they’ve been handed.

            A suspension is a suspension, and they are lucky that they are permitted to play grade cricket at all. If you’re suspended from any of the football codes, or cycling, or swimming, or athletics, or just about any other sport, or a suspension from driving your car, you don’t get to go and play at a lower level, or drive a smaller car, while serving your ban.

            These three traitorous blokes should count their lucky stars that they haven’t copped a total ban from all cricket – that’s to CA’s credit that CA sees a need to offer them the chance to rehabilitate themselves through grassroots involvement and cricket-related community service.

            • May 22nd 2018 @ 12:57pm
              jameswm said | May 22nd 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

              Fair enough you did say that.

              I do think the traitor call is OTT though.

              • May 22nd 2018 @ 3:13pm
                DTM said | May 22nd 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

                Whilst I agree mostly with DLKN, I think it serves no purpose to call them traitors. They made mistakes (as we all do) and they are paying the price. We need to remember that not only are they suspended from playing for their state, their country and in the IPL, they have all lost a significant amount of money from their playing contract and their sponsorships. They will all have to live with this mistake for the rest of their lives.
                Calling them names like this is childish. As disappointed as I was with their actions in Cape Town, I believe they have accepted their punishments with a dignity that should be a lesson to anyone who makes a serious mistake – own up, cop the penalty, move on.

            • May 23rd 2018 @ 4:59am
              JayG said | May 23rd 2018 @ 4:59am | ! Report

              Traitor seems very strong – what have they betrayed? If every mistake committed in a sports-field made the players traitors, very shortly we would have no players left.

              Also, nobody is apologizing for them – they did wrong and they must be punished. They themselves have said as much. What David is contesting is the severity of the bans considering both prior precedent as well as reframed ICC rules which are likely to be released shortly. The argument is that CA’s penalties must be revised to bring them in line with what will be applicable to other teams and other players around the world.

              As for the fact that the bans must stand because they accepted the sanctions, the odds were weighed heavily against them when they accepted the sanctions. If cooler heads later determine that their offence was not as bad as was made out, surely they deserve the benefit of such an observation?

              CA doled out justice Wild West style – coming up with a new definition of “bringing disrepute to the game” to include ball tampering, applying this definition retroactively and imposing unprecedented bans (They did quite well out of it – public blood-thirst was satisfied, they secured a record new television rights deal, all administrators gave themselves a clean chit and status quo was happily restored ) The ICC’s response was much more in keeping with the practice of law in civilized countries – they applied the rules as they existed at the time and are revising the rules to prevent such instances in future. The argument that CA’s mob-justice must be reversed to apply new rules as they will be framed has much merit.

            • May 23rd 2018 @ 12:06pm
              peter chrisp said | May 23rd 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              Could not agree more the penalties that each player received were quite appropiate 9-12 month ban in retrospect should these players be allowed to play first class & shield games before the ban is lifted? Everyone no doubt will have their own opinions and i generally have to agree with DLKN similar to the AFL code once you are out for that certain amount of time that’s it you do your time there is no excuse

      • May 24th 2018 @ 8:18am
        Philip O'Donovan said | May 24th 2018 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        Spot on.It was only a question of time before certain scribes attempt to “water down”these players actions.Have no doubt by the time there suspensions are up some will even consider them martyrs.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:07am
      Paul said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      David, Smith and co only received a one match ban for ball tampering from the ICC, which they’ve now served. Their interest might be the same as mine with the pending ICC decision – will they link other infractions to ball tampering and increase the penalties that way?

      At first class level when incidents occur, the issue is mostly about “the look”, given millions will see incidents replayed endlessly. CA decided “the look” was a bad one, charged the players with bringing the game into disrepute and penalised them accordingly. I think the ICC should follow a similar path and really hammer players when the “look” is bad for cricket.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 22nd 2018 @ 11:57am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        The problem with the policy of banning players based on “the look” is that the BCCI will determine what it looks like and when!

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 12:01pm
          Paul said | May 22nd 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          Sad but true. I’d forgotten about them

    • Roar Guru

      May 22nd 2018 @ 9:53am
      JamesH said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      I don’t think Smith and co would be any more interested in what the ICC does than other international players would be. They’ve served their ICC punishments, as the likes of du Plessis and Philander have in recent years.

      ICC changes will only affect future tampering penalties. Going forward I think the Aussie trio are about the least likely players in the world to offend!

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 7:16pm
      fp11 said | May 22nd 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

      Darren Lehmann is in this committee about ball tempering and cheating! You might as well stick Peter Griffin in there!

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 10:16pm
      mark bp said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:16pm | ! Report


      the icc has got out the lettuce leaf for former ball tamperers and if it was left to the icc…. smith… warner and bancroft would have been lettuce leaved.

      cricket australia as rushed into a extreme. they have taken matters into their own hands and got out a spikey metal bar that will do permanent damage to australian cricket. it will do damage to the involved players…… it will decrease the australian teams capacity to win… and the popularity of the game will decrease. ultimately it will decrease cricket australias revenue.

      opposition chronic cricket tampering nations like south africa… india… pakistan and england will be laughing.

      cricket australia should have left the penalty decision to the icc…… and then campaigned for harsher penalties for ball tampering to the icc.

      cricket australia should look for “a good behaviour excuse” to reduce the penalities asap to limit the damage of their decision asap…!

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 10:33pm
        Paul said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:33pm | ! Report

        CA’s backed itself into a corner on this one, Mark. If they reduce the penalties any time soon, they’ll be accused of going soft on these guys. If they leave the penalties in place, you’re right, they’re significantly penalising Australian cricket.

        Maybe they could do something closer to Xmas and let them play in the Shield or domestic ODIs in the New Year. As I’ve said previously, the penalty is for 12 months for Warner & Smith but this makes their chances of making the World Cup side virtually nil (if they can’t play till March), unless they can get some game time under their belts. This then makes the penalty longer than 12 months, which seems grossly unfair.

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 4:22am
          JayG said | May 23rd 2018 @ 4:22am | ! Report

          I can see few scenarios panning out:

          1. ICC comes up with new rules for ball tampering, CA decides to implement the new rules retrospectively and thus reduces the Cape Town trio’s sentence to those recommended under the ICC’s new rules. Likelihood: 4/10

          2. CA’s external agency completes its review, determines the board too was at fault, recommends a code of conduct and penalties for violation of the code. Penalties recommended are lower than those imposed by CA, CA decides to accept recommendations and reduces penalties. Likelihood: 1/10

          3. Australia gets beaten at home by India. ACA, ex players, commentators demand in chorus that Cape Town trio must be rehabilitated to promote chances in World Cup. Trio are allowed to play Shield/BBL/domestic cricket. Likelihood 6/10

          4. CA keeps bans in place as they are but works behind the scenes with cricket boards in other countries (read New Zealand or South Africa) to allow the trio to play in their domestic tournaments ensuring match practice before the World Cup. Alternatively, CA may also work with other boards throughout the year to ensure trio participation in other white ball tournaments such as the T20 leagues. Likelihood 8/10

          It also needs to be considered whether the Cape Town trio actually want their bans reduced. Any reduction in penalties are going to come with the corresponding negative publicity about how the players are getting away with cheating despite the fact that they would most likely have served the majority of their sentences anyway. Even if the bans are in fact reduced, I do not see them being reduced for more than 2-3 months. In the cases of Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft in particular, they have many years of cricket ahead of them. In the bigger scheme of things, they would need to assess if it makes sense for them to abandon their “redemption stories” for a mere 2-3 months of cricket?

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