In the aftermath of that incident in South Africa, Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner each copped a series of penalties, one of which was around future leadership roles in Australian cricket.
Warner was banned for life from any captaincy role in Australian international teams, while Smith and Bancroft were banned from any captaincy roles in national sides for a further 12 months after their one-year bans from cricket had been served.
At the time, most cricket pundits thought little of this, with most focusing on the period of the ban. There have been lots of thoughts flying around social media about this topic, but little has been mentioned about the leadership bans.
In March this year Durham County Club announced Cameron Bancroft would captain the team, and it’s fair to say this decision brought out a wide range of comments, from howls of derision from Sir Ian Botham to cautious approval from Mark Wood, an English Test bowler. Bancroft has answered his critics in the best possible way, scoring centuries and leading his side to victory in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Over the Easter long weekend the Rajasthan Royals announced Steve Smith would captain their side for the rest of the year, and he responded with a matchwinning half-century.
That means two of the three players involved in ball tampering are back leading teams and doing so very successfully.
Warner also appears to have a lot of say in field placings for his IPL team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, and this must be something he relishes, as it has hardly affected his batting.
The question is: did Cricket Australia take things too far by placing the leadership bans on these players?
Aaron Finch and Tim Paine have done an excellent job with their respective teams. Finch has led his side to some important recent victories, all while batting himself back into form.
Paine has actually done a lot more for Australian cricket, helping to rebuild a badly tarnished image through his approach to the game and the media. Along the way he has led the team to important Test victories against India and Sri Lanka and has the team well placed to mount a strong challenge for the Ashes in August.
What happens, though, if either of these two players are injured and have to miss the World Cup or the Ashes?
Australia is so thin for leadership in the ODI team that the selectors chose two vice-captains – Alex Carey and Pat Cummins – yet most pundits would probably have Glenn Maxwell as their preferred choice.
The guy left out of discussions proved to be an outstanding captain for the Australian T20 side and his IPL team: David Warner. There are no doubts about his ability to lead a team with flair while still making runs at a great strike rate.
A similar dilemma exists in the Australian Test team. Pat Cummins is a reluctant vice-captain and Travis Head, the other possibility, is still seen to cementing his place in the team, though it’s likely he will captain the team in a few years if form doesn’t desert him.
In the short term we have a guy who is arguably one of the top two Test batsmen in recent times and, prior to his indiscretion, had led Australia to a four-nil series win over England. Steve Smith has experience playing in England and has captained Australia 34 times for 18 wins, often scoring the bulk of runs for the team.
Even Cameron Bancroft must come into the conversation if Paine’s injured. He’s obviously a long shot to make the squad, but if he continues with his great vein of form in English conditions and his side continues to rack up the victories under his captaincy, maybe he’s a bolter, at least for a vice-captaincy role.
Warner and Smith are both in the national ODI and Test teams. The logic for them being included is that we must play our best players, and these two are clearly in that category.
If we’re going to allow them to play, why should we hobble the team with inexperienced captains if Finch or Paine are injured?
Waqar Younis, Mike Atherton, Shahid Afridi, Faf du Plessis and Stuart Broad are just a few of the guys who have something in common with Warner and Smith. They all tampered with the ball and all held captaincy roles for this respective countries. Why can’t Smith and Warner be treated to same way if the opportunity were to crop up?