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K.R. Nayar column: Ugly Australians tag come to stay with Smith & co

Ball-tampering is no less a severe offence than match-fixing

17:41 March 25, 2018

The Australian team that has been caught tampering the ball is worthy of being declared as the most disgraceful team. Resorting to unlawful means to win a game shows the extent to which a team can stoop to just to win matches.

Since it is the team leadership that hatched the plan to get Cameron Bancroft, the junior-most player in the team to tamper with the ball, they deserve severe punishment. Skipper Steve Smith has been unscrupulous in instructing and guiding his bowler to indulge in such unlawful acts.

When the Australian players indulged in sledging, many justified it as the Australian way of cricket, though mouthing expletives to gain advantage made them look very ugly. In fact, if sledging resulted in them being called ‘ugly Australians’, this act will make them known hereafter as ‘crooked’ Australians.

It would not be preposterous to consider this act of ball-tampering almost equivalent to match-fixing. Had the television cameras not caught the act, Australians may well have gotten away with it. One also wonders whether they have been doing it for long, but didn’t get caught!

Thanks to the television cameras that exposed this act, Smith will be hereafter known as the most disgraceful captain. All the runs he has amassed, the records broken and likely to break in the future, will never be enough to wash away this horrible unsporting act by him. Smith confessed that it was his desperation to win over South Africa that led him to do it, but he actually tarnished cricket for fame.

There is no point in admitting that he is embarrassed after getting caught. In fact, cricket fans are embarrassed that such a talented cricketer can plummet to such low levels.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) should consider introducing a red card for any bowler caught tampering; and if it has been done under instructions from the captain, he too deserves to be given one. If players with such attitudes are on the field after deliberately committing such a disgraceful act, it can mar the sanctity of the game. The ICC should also think of awarding the game to the opponent in the future if any team indulges in such acts.

If it was a ‘brainfade’ that made Smith do it, then the punishment must be harsh enough so that no cricketer or captain in future gets such a brainfade.

It is surprising that Smith indulged in such an act while wearing the baggy green. Despite their glorious achievements, the Australian team will be more referred to those who indulged in sledging, ball tampering and underarm bowling as well to win matches. Their players will, from now on, be jeered than cheered for sometime whenever they enter the field.