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Opinion

Ball-tampering scandal: The English view

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

A selection of views on Australia’s ball-tampering scandal from some of the English game’s most respected voices, including three former captains, a current captain and the editor of Wisden.

Lawrence Booth

The editor of the Wisden Almanack writing in the Daily Mail:

“The Australian media gave Smith’s team a free pass. Instead of calling them out for their boorishness and hypocrisy, they focused all too often on the misdemeanours of opponents. Smith grew to believe he was untouchable. How else to explain a Baldrick-like plan to tamper with the ball in plain sight of dozens of cameras?

“Australia have been allowed to operate within a bubble. It has burst in spectacular fashion.”

Mike Atherton

The former England captain who was himself embroiled in a ball-tampering scandal in 1994, writing in the Times:

“It seemed clear to me from watching Smith’s press conference, that he had not grasped the seriousness of his situation. He could have been talking about a dropped catch or two. When I was fined at Lord’s in 1994, the first thing I did was call Graham Gooch into the back office and ask him whether he thought I should resign. Even in those fraught hours, I was completely aware of the gravity of the situation, and that it was a possibility that I would have to stand down. Smith seemed to lack that awareness, which speaks of hubris.

“The irony of watching Bancroft and Smith under extreme scrutiny in front of the media was not lost on England’s players here in Auckland. It was four months ago that both enjoyed laughing at Jonny Bairstow’s — and England’s — expense by deliberately ramping up a non-story about a headbutt in a bar in Perth. The game has a nasty habit of biting back. Neither was chortling in Cape Town, nor, half a world away in Australia, were the team’s supporters.”

Nasser Hussain

The former England captain and Sky Sports commentator, speaking in the Daily Mail:

“Previous Australian sides have come close to the line. Border was in charge when Merv Hughes abused everyone, and there were nasty moments with Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

“But those sides didn’t get themselves into a tangle like Smith’s team have. If you gave it back to them and performed well, they would show you respect. It was a two-way thing. That’s been lost under Smith, whose players seem to think the opposition shouldn’t fight back, and believe they are above the law. Their public expect better. As captain of Australia, Smith is on a pedestal. His mistake has been to forget that.”

Stuart Broad

The champion England seamer and former T20 captain, who has previous with Darren Lehmann:

“I saw Steve Smith say in his press conference it’s the first time they’ve tried it. To me, it’s surprising they’d change a method that had been working.

“Look at the Ashes series we’ve just played, they’ve reverse swung the ball in conditions you wouldn’t expect to.

“There was no evidence they were doing this in the Ashes, from what I’ve seen.”

Joe Root

The England Test captain on being asked whether Australia cheated during the Ashes:

“Not to my knowledge. I personally wasn’t aware of anything going on throughout that series. I have enough to worry about at the moment. This is disappointing for Test cricket and for cricket in general.

“As captain you’re responsible for how everyone else behaves. I have to look after my own group and make sure I’m happy with how they conduct themselves. But any international player should know the rules. I should not have to back that up. It’s as simple as that.

“Every time you go out on the field you know there are a load of cameras. You are under the spotlight. It’s important that you give everything and you do everything to win. But in the right way.”

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