Steve Waugh, the former Australia skipper, has said lack of stringent punishments in the past for offences like ball-tampering led to the scandal in Cape Town which saw Cricket Australia ban the trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo at the Laureus event in Paris, Waugh said, “The boundaries are pushed a bit by throwing the ball into the rough on the ground, which they shouldn't do and then it's escalated from there. It's a shame how it got to the point that it did but I guess the authorities let that happen.”
Smith and Warner were banned for one year by Cricket Australia while Bancroft was banned for nine months after they admitted to tampering with the ball in the Newlands Test against South Africa. Interestingly, the ICC handed Smith a 100% fine of his match fee and a one-match suspension, the maximum penalty under the code of conduct, gave Bancroft three demerit points and a 75% fine but did not come down at all on Warner.
In the past, there were several ball-tampering offences. Faf du Plessis, the South Africa skipper, was caught tampering with the ball twice in 2013 against Pakistan in Dubai and in Australia during the Hobart Test. In the Dubai Test, he used the side zipper of his trouser to rub the ball and in Hobart, he was accused of altering the conditions of the ball by applying mint saliva.
In the match in Hobart, he was fined 100 percent of his match fee while in the Dubai game, he was charged 50 percent of his fee but escaped suspensions on both occasions.
Ball-tampering was classed as a level two offence under the ICC code of conduct when the Newlands incident unfolded. Since then, it has been elevated to a level three category, which carries a ban of up to six Tests or 12 ODIs.
Players are protected from reality
Waugh also stated that the internal system in Australia was such that players had lost touch with reality and gave them the impression that they were bigger than the game.
“They are in a bit of a bubble and they are protected. They are insulated from a lot of things. They've got a lot of people around the side that protect them and tell them how good they are and how everything's fantastic. Sometimes you can lose touch with reality. They just didn't realise how big a mistake it was and what they'd actually done,” Waugh said.
The ban on Smith and Warner ends on March 2019 and they could be eligible for selection for the World Cup and the Ashes. However, the former captain believes that dealing with the public in the aftermath of their return will be their biggest challenge.