There has been so much said recently about the ball tampering trio of Steve Smith, Dave Warner and Cameron Bancroft. In particular the rhetoric has recently focused on whether or not their bans should be lifted in light of the damning findings of the independent Cricket Australia review.
Some have implied that CA’s cultural problems are at least partly to blame for these three players’ actions.
I find that a little hard to swallow. In fact, I can’t really see how any of the findings regarding the culture of CA as a whole could in any way detract from the decisions these players made.
From my amateur reading of the findings one thing stands out immediately – it’s an organisational review.
Yet, in real terms, where the players sit within the organisation is well removed from the corporate culture. Players are not sitting in boardrooms having egotistical arguments over the way to move forward or make selections.
They are busy being guided by – first and foremost – coaching staff. Their focus is to win matches.
The review clearly shows that winning was king among the values CA held to in the past few years. If winning was king, it seems respect for the spirit of the game was dunce. And that is unquestionably a problem.
But to assert that Warner and Smith acted the way they did because their employer had a less than ideal culture is simply a cop out.
I’m just gobsmacked by the number of former players who’ve, on the back of this review, come out in support of the banned players and called for their immediate reinstatement.
Ignoring how undeniably underdone these players will be, I feel bringing them back before their full bans have been served would only make things worse for CA.
In the end, it’s a question of what’s right and wrong. And, whether we expect these players to have known the difference.
If you are randomly drug tested at your workplace and offer up a positive result, you can’t blame the possibly quite toxic culture for your actions.
Or at least, you can’t expect that doing so will reverse your firing. A court wouldn’t accept, ‘my boss made me do it’ as an excuse for drug possession. Thus, these players shouldn’t be handed an excuse that mitigates their extremely poor decision making.
I accept the findings of the review and I, like all cricket fans, hope that the issues therein are rectified in a timely manner. But that doesn’t change the fact that these players had a choice to make and they chose wrong over right.
It’s important to know why they did that, which we now do – at least in part. But to shorten their sanctions is simply sending the wrong message. To young cricketers, to amateur cricketers, and to those tasked with turning the CA ship around.
Should they, once they’ve served the bans, be welcomed back and given a chance to once again push for selection? Absolutely. But not at the expense of sending the right message. No one should ever be beyond redemption – but there’s a reason time off for good behaviour was thrown out of the justice system in this country.
Because it doesn’t work. Do the crime, do the time. Then pick yourself up, improve and rebuild. That’s what we should want from these players and CA at large.
In time it may even be appropriate to praise them for the way in which they’ve done that.
But handing them a cop out at this stage fixes nothing. It changes nothing. And it would be a terrible example of an opportunity for change gone begging.
I think Rod Marsh illustrated my point for me quite well on ABC News Breakfast when he said that we should lift the bans and bring the players back for the India test series because we wouldn’t win without them. And there was me thinking a win-at-any-cost culture was what we were trying to change…