Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were the three individuals who were suspended for the ball-tampering scandal which put Australian cricket in crisis during the Newlands Test against South Africa. Smith and Warner were banned for one year while Bancroft was banned for nine months for their role in the scandal. Even Cricket Australia were hit hard by the scandal, with an independent Ethics Committee lashing out at the Australian Cricket Board’s culture of winning at all costs which resulted in the scandal. Now, in a recent chat with former Australia cricketer Adam Gilchrist, Smith, who was the captain of the side when the scandal erupted, has used the same factor to lash out at Cricket Australia.
“I remember James Sutherland and Pat Howard coming into the rooms there and actually saying 'We don't pay you to play, we pay you to win'. So, for me, that was I think a little bit disappointing to say. We don't go out there to try and lose games of cricket, we go out there to try and win and play the best way we can,” Smith said. The right-handed batsman gave a bit of a background to the quote. Australia had suffered an innings loss in Hobart against South Africa and it was their fifth straight loss at home. The defeat resulted in plenty of changes in the Australian cricket team.
Sutherland resigned from his position as CA chief executive after the incident, team performance head Howard was sacked last month after review by an independent committee. In fact, Howard was one of CA's investigation team members that questioned Smith and other players in the aftermath of the scandal. However, Smith believes that the team culture was not bad. "If you're talking about cultures and stuff, you only have to look back a couple of months before South Africa and we won an Ashes series here in Australia 4-0 and people are saying the culture's really good and everything's good. Things can change really quickly. Obviously events that happened in Cape Town make people say that the culture was really bad. People will have their own opinions on that," he added.
Before Smith, Cameron Bancroft had given an interview to Gilchrist in which he blamed Warner for the incident but also directed most of the blame at himself. “Dave (Warner) suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in the game and I didn't know any better. I didn't know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued really,” Bancroft said.
However, Bancroft admitted that he was guided by his own distorted values in making the horrendous decision. "The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in? You hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake."
Shocked at interviews
Ricky Ponting, the former Australia skipper, has expressed shock at the interviews and said more eyebrows will be raised on the ball-tampering scandal. Ponting said that most of the players had moved on from the scandal and these serve as unwanted reactions.
“Now that those stories are out there, it's going to be interesting to see what the reaction is tomorrow in newspapers and news channels. There's enough in those stories to raise a few eyebrows,” Ponting told Cricket Australia’s official website.
Darren Lehmann, the coach of the Australia cricket team who also resigned in tears following the scandal, has said Smith should have had more control. In an interview to Macquire Sports Radio, Lehmann said Bancroft should have approached them in this situation. “Steve decided to turn a blind eye. He was captain of the country and he should have more control of that. Yeah, he (Bancroft) could have and should have come to us,” Lehmann rued.
Out of all the players involved, only David Warner has not responded.