The Australian Cricket team, that is no new to controversies, has landed themselves in yet another scandal. This time, the Australian captain, Steve Smith, admitted after getting caught on camera that they deliberately tried to tamper with the condition of the ball on the third day of the third test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday to gain an advantage.
Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera tampering the ball with a yellow tape. Steve Smith who lead the team since 2015 said that the illegal ball tampering was orchestrated by the team’s “leadership group”.
What is Ball tampering in cricket?
Ball-tampering is an illegal process of tampering with the side, surface or seam of the ball. It can mean scratching, rubbing or fiddling with the ball, usually using an outside agent or rough material, to such a degree that its condition is altered. This is used to gain an advantage from the pitch.
When cricketers rub the ball in their trousers in clear view of the umpire, then that is not illegal. But using an external agent, like lip balm with saliva is illegal. Faf du Plessis was caught using saliva after eating a mint to shine the ball.
More aggressive tactics have involved players picking at the seam or surface of the ball with a sharp fingernail or bottle-top. All these tactics are used to make the ball swing.
If a player is caught ball-tampering, the umpire can impose a five-run penalty against the fielding side and order the replacement of the ball.
Players may later be fined between 50% and 100% of their match fee and slapped with three or four demerit points. If they’re given four demerit points, it triggers a one-Test ban, reports Mirror.
A timeline of events
The plan was hatched when South Africa went to lunch with a lead of over 100 runs and one wicket down. That is when the “leadership group” of the Australian team hatched the plan. Cameron Bancroft was selected to execute it.
Bancroft used yellow sticky tape and grit from the pitch to work on the ball while attempting to shine it. Host broadcasters repeatedly showed the footage of the tampering. Cameron was alerted that his act was caught and he becomes nervous. He stuck the sandpaper down the front of his trouser after this.
After the match was over, Steve Smith admitted to the tampering.
Australian media shames them
“Our Greatest Disgrace” and “Smith’s Shame” screamed the Australian newspapers when they reported about the tampering.
“The cheating has hurt Australian cricket from helmet to boot,” it said in a commentary calling for Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland to stand down. “In charge of the game for nearly two decades, Sutherland has done little to change the rotten culture of the sport at its most senior level,” reported The Times of India.
Steve Smith has been asked to step down as Captain of the Australian team. However, he did step down as the captain of Rajasthan Royals, the Indian Premier League team. He has been banned from one test match and he has been fined 100% of the match’s fee.
Cameron Bancroft has been fined 75% of the match fee. He has also been given 3 discredit points.
Harbhajan Singh feels that the punishment awarded to them is not severe. Not just that, Twitter has been flooded with tweets which say that the punishment awarded to them was unfair and harsher punishment was required.
wow @ICC wow. Great treatment nd FairPlay. No ban for Bancroft with all the evidences whereas 6 of us were banned for excessive appealing in South Africa 2001 without any evidence and Remember Sydney 2008? Not found guilty and banned for 3 matches.different people different rules
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) March 25, 2018
If reports in the English media are to be believed Steve Smith could be stripped of the Australian captaincy permanently. David Warner, Smith’s deputy is also involved. Reports suggest that both Smith and Warner are facing one-year bans with coach Darren Lehmann set to resign with immediate effect as cricket chiefs hold crisis talks in South Africa.