The cricketing world has seen tectonic changes of unparalleled proportions in the weeks gone by. This is perhaps the first time that ball-tampering has been caught on camera with such lucidity. Another aspect of the whole saga has been the brave and emotional bearing of responsibility by Australian cricket team captain, Steve Smith. Recently, a video of his press conference emerged in which we saw him tear up and eventually break down, being consoled by his father, courageously holding himself accountable for the shameful acts. For a moment there, Smith gave a convincing account of his sportsmanship and character as a leader and almost compelled us to empathize with his situation. He, along with the vice-captain of the team, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft, the person who ca has received a 12-month ban from representing Australia at the international level and has been barred from the candidacy of the captainship for twice the same amount.

Arguably one of the best cricketers of his generation, Smith has been noted for acting incongruently and often desperately when faced with tough situations on the field. His behaviour and spirit are reflective of the way Ozzies have carried themselves on the field for decades. Known for their tough character and categorically inappropriate way of playing cricket, the Ozzies have never shied away from expressing themselves and letting their feelings aware. Be it Andrew Symonds’ monkey-scandal or Warne’s expletive blast on the English, there’s no denying the people from Down Under’s strong-willed and animated character. They dominated the cricketing sphere after the great era of the Windies ended and produced a string of world-beaters and skilful leaders who would stoop to any level to win. I’m certainly not trying to paint a negative picture, but can’t afford really to partially imply that without saluting their spirit and vigour. The sanctions levied on the players by Cricket Australia are definitely harsh and seem more of an effort on their part to salvage their vanquishing respect and pride in the cricketing fraternity, rather than look out for their players and reprimand their actions. It seems an attack on their character and person rather than their deeds which is something that has outraged the fraternity.

The Australian Cricketing Association (ACA) has come out with their statement, polemically attacking the board for their decisions and pilfering out “glaring anomalies” in the punishments. The chief concerns of the ACA are:

  • The punishment is higher than those of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC), who fined Smith 100% of his match fee and suspended him for one game and docked Bancroft 75% of his payment and gave him three demerit points.

  • The bans are “disproportionate” to previous sanctions for changing the condition of the ball.

  • Cricket Australia’s “rush to place players before the world’s media” on Saturday.

James Sutherland, the ACA Chief, has since then come out in the defence of the players and has maintained that the players will be looked after. His sentiments have been echoed in the statements of former and current cricketers. Among them are Ravichandran Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Herschell Gibbs, Francois du Plessis, Mitchell Johnson, and Sachin Tendulkar. Seeing Steven Smith cry and break down like that was in itself a provocative and intimate moment. Without even participating in the event, he has been punished excessively and harshly that is inappropriate to the situation. Hope so he recovers and shows the CA and the world what they’ll be missing out on for the nexy year in the IPL, which starts in a week’s time.

Arnav Srivastava

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