The scandal that shook Australian cricket

In countries that were once part of the British Empire, cricket is no joke. Unknown outside the Commonwealth, the game of bat, balls and wickets is played in the United Kingdom, in India – where it is the most followed sport – holders of world titles in Pakistan and Australia. And the green wooden volley that fell on the island-continent national team after an attempt to cheat during a meeting against South Africa is up to the love that grew this game. down Under,

The Australian captain, Steve Smith’s confession of guilt, on Saturday 24 March, discredited his country and launched an investigation that scratches the culture of winning a national team until – until then – the guarantors of this ancestral “soul”. Being a game. Scratches on the cricket ball, this is where the scam came from.

In the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday, Australia’s Cameron Bancroft used duct tape to collect abrasive particles from the pitch and rub them into the ball, scuffing it and changing its projected trajectory. Their fraud exposed by cameras, photos being broadcast live in the stadium, players – almost comically – tried to hide the object of the crime in their pants.

Prime Minister hurt by scam

When asked about the episode at the end of the meeting, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft admitted that they had hatched a conspiracy during this time. ” lunch break ” (During cricket Test matches, matches are held in three sessions from morning to evening), causing a major scandal in Australia. Legends of Test matches, competitions that take place over five days and are the most prestigious format in cricket, were outraged, as was the Australian Sports Commission.

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Even the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull – whose island-continent residents like to say that his position is one of the most prestigious in the country … behind cricket team captain – cited the scandal. “a bitter disappointment”, “To see the Australian team embroiled in fraud is a complete disregard for trust”, he scolded. And to remember that Australian cricketers should be role models “For the whole country, which keeps those who wear baggy green [casquette verte, et par métonymie le surnom des joueurs] on a pedestal »,

“This shame is beyond play, BBC editor Dan Roan added on TwitterFor whom national pride has been hurt. baggy green Revered in Australia. But he is fueled by a winning at all cost mentality and a mean, hypocritical culture that leaves the team with few friends. ,

Cheat using earth, bite or candy

In this case, and as is often the case in sport, there is a sense of law and law. According to the laws of cricket, ball tampering There is a level two (out of four) violation that can result in penalty points and a one-game suspension for players found guilty. A mistake, but not so serious. In fact, finding ways to change the ball’s trajectory is as old or almost an exercise as this sport. And many international teams have been found guilty in the past of this process recognized by players around the world.

From former England captain Michael Atherton, who used dirt in his pocket to increase the ball’s roughness, to a Pakistani player who tried to cut a cork and a leather object to change its structure, players have been imaginative. There is no shortage. playing with balls. Even the current South Africa captain, Faf du Plessis, whose team played against Australia, has been charged with such fines twice: once for scratching the leather with a zipper, another by scratching it. Candy is made sticky by coating it with saliva.

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So, more than an attempt to deceive, what has fueled the anger of Australians – from columnists to coffee machines to social media and the government – ​​is the collective forebodings acknowledged by the captain. australian team, Rather than denying it, one hard point is that images of attempted fraud and cutaways of his accomplices are aided with a knowing air, Steve Smith acknowledged in the press A “The decision of the leaders of the group”,

“I’m not giving names, but we discussed it. [Cameron Bancroft] was around, we talked about it and saw it as a possible way to profit. In the end, it didn’t work: the referee noticed no change in the ball’s behavior or appearance. It was an unfortunate choice, and we truly regret those actions. ,

Captain suspended for next match

For a game that has written in the preamble of its rules that it must “Its Unique Appeal” by the way “That it should be played not only respecting the rules but also respecting the spirit of the game”, the blow is violent. especially since it begins “The captain is responsible for his team’s fair play and respects the spirit of the game” , So many points on which Steve Smith seems to be failing.

If the International Cricket Council (ICC, International Federation) suspended Smith for the fourth Test (from Friday in Johannesburg) because of his “contributing to discrediting the sport”Bancroft, who was cleared during the match, could be aligned against South Africa. A minimum sanction that hardly satisfies Australian observers, who are calling for Smith to step back from the captaincy, or even a life ban from the national team for the 28-year-old, whom some see as history. Best Australian batsman.

of the australian press

“Hey Cricket Australia, show me some balls”, storm mail mail In its Monday edition, it called for severe sanctions against the perpetrators of this widespread fraud. And the entire Australian press complies with this request.

Long considered a gentleman’s game, cricket is more than a game in Australia. It has 1.4 million licensees for 24 million residents. This British discipline is credited with contributing to shaping the soul of the southern nation, through its ideals and sense of morality. Wearing the national team’s green cap is considered sacred, an honor enjoyed by hardly 450 people. And in the former British colony, which built its national identity largely through sport, with it comes great responsibilities.

Immediately after South Africa arrived to try to extinguish the fire, the head of the Cricket Australia (CA) federation, James Sutherland, announced the launch of an investigation into the incident. and clarified that Steve Smith and his second, David Warner, had agreed to put on their captain and vice-captain caps for the end of the Test match.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

Alcohol maven. Incurable pop culture specialist. Communicator. Gamer. Certified explorer.

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