How we SHOULD react to the ball tampering saga.

How we SHOULD react to the ball tampering saga.

9 minutes read

As people who hate the guts of the Australian Cricket team, and believe me I know people who do, their inconsiderate reactions are justified. But, let us for a moment, look beyond it. Let us, for a moment, contemplate. Are our reactions justified just by the fact that such an incident spawned from the Australian Cricket team? Would we have had the same reservations we have now if such an operation was carried out by another team? The aftermath of this incident doesn’t only involve rebuilding of Australian Cricket and revisiting ball tampering rules but also involves us maturing as fans and viewers of the game. While we have every right to question the actions of certain individuals, we have no right, and I repeat, absolutely no right to make judgements and question the integrity of these individuals.

Feeling cheated? Feeling disgusted? Feeling let down? Yeah, well, get in line. But, are we the people who want to show compassion? Are we the people who want to show empathy? If not then we shouldn’t be the ones to expect it back in return. This is not about asking people as to why reactions to previous such incidents weren’t this harsh. Neither is this about telling people that “Hey, they cried on the TV. At least feel for them.” No. It is about telling people that no one is perfect and that we aren’t on a moral pedestal to judge their actions.

1-year bans and bans on leadership roles. What I don’t understand is the differentiation between level of severity of various similar acts. I mean, who decided that sledging isn’t as punishable an act as ball tampering! Deliberately changing the condition of the ball to aid the fielding side in getting an extra advantage isn’t really all that different from deliberately passing demeaning comments or attempting to physically harm another cricketer for gaining undue advantage over the opponents. Yes, again, Australia are one of the pioneers of sledging but, I am referring to the incidents of the 1st and 2nd Test of the same series, which saw questionable behaviours, from 2 South African cricketers, being neglected. Where was “it’s time to take actions” and “it’s time make examples” then!

It’s not the punishment, as such, which is questionable. It is the timing of it and the very circumstances surrounding it. Distinct punishments by ICC, the apex governing body in World Cricket, were given to these cricketers. Thus, it makes it all the more unjust for Cricket Australia, a governing body below ICC, to give their own versions of punishment, if I could even call it punishments.

This whole incident, least to say, is an eye-opening one. While some classes of people may realise that it is indeed an eye-opening incident, there are other classes of people who are just too self-involved in doing the only thing they know – complain in a self-righteous way. So, as an unbiased yet opinionated writer (at least I aspire to be), it makes me wonder how different types of people involved with cricket reacted to the incident and how they SHOULD have reacted and they should continue to react.

ICC and MCC (Lawmakers)

It goes without saying that for the ICC, the learnings from this episode are very simple – uniform and integrated laws with even more uniform and integrated law enforcement. I reiterate that there is distinction between various malpractices, alright. But, there is no difference. It still amuses me to see that ICC and MCC have different charges for physical sledging and changing the condition of the ball. I am being specific by comparing physical sledging and changing the condition of the ball to ironically highlight the incidents of this very series – Kagiso Rabada’s physical ‘brushes’ with Steve Smith handed him a 2-match ban only to be overturned because apparently, the ‘shoulder brushes’ were not deliberate. Plausible, yes. But, the bottom line still remains; Steve Smith received a physical shoulder brush as part of Rabada’s wicket celebrations. Where’s the consistency, ICC?

Cricket Australia

Ok, I still don’t know why Cricket Australia felt the need to supersede the punishments handed out by ICC? I have the advantage of a bit of a hindsight, so let me attempt to answer this scathing question, with another question. “Why are Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft being held as scapegoats in order to do immediate damage control to satisfy the ever so self-righteous needs of the people?” I mean, come on people, they have not murdered anyone. Self-righteous media and people are just hypocritically demanding completely unaware of their own shortcomings, and to give in to their demands just to save your image is injustice to these players.

Cricketers and Opposition (South Africa)

Cricketers, I feel, are better off introspecting; reflecting on their past actions and how they have possible gotten away with it. Faf du Plessis shot a text to Steve Smith while empathising with him. Why wouldn’t he – he was at the centre of 2 episodes of ball-tampering, in 2013 and 2016. Regardless, I think it was nice of Faf to do that. As an opposition, South African players didn’t do much wrong. Not like they had an opportunity to do any wrong.

Fans

Oh, the evergreen fans. The body-painters. The flag-wavers. The hardcore supporters. The ‘I-don’t-support-any-team’ supporters. The stadium-watchers. The home-viewers. But the fan that trumps all of them, albeit unfortunately, are the plastic fans; the glory hunters. When the episode unfolded, how many of you expected some ‘plastic fan’ or ‘always-looking-for-a-way-to-say-football-is-better’ fan you know to come up and say “Cricket is corrupted. Cricket is fixed. That is why I don’t watch Cricket.”? I expected a few of my acquaintances to come and tell this to me and lo & behold did they! (Leave a comment if this happened with you too; we can have a merry laugh on these people who try to justify their abandonment from cricket-watching).

I am not worried about the true fans. I am not worried about the normal supporters as well. Either they’ll forget or they’ll forgive. It’s about the people who will continue to use this as a reason for them abandoning cricket-watching. Talk about justifying for a good night’s sleep. Talk about lack of arguments.

As my good friend said so rightly, and I quote, “I heard all the plastic fans need some fixing; they are too ‘noisy’…”

How we SHOULD react to the ball tampering saga

Stadium Watchers

Why do I have a separate section for stadium-watchers and not have them clubbed with “Fans”. Well, I have a reason for that. Let’s not forget, amidst all the drama, David Warner was provoked by people in the stands who were passing comments about his wife Candice Warner – comments of the derogatory nature. I am not saying that the comments might have directly provoked him to do such an act or it justifies his apparent acts in any manner. What I am saying is this – as stadium-watchers, especially as a viewer near the boundary, it is their responsibility to keep their dialect clean and refrain from passing personal or derogatory comments. A player, too, has a certain level to which they can soak the comments in, past which, they have all the rights to flip (not in this manner, certainly).

Conclusion

My honest opinion on this matter is that it was blown out of proportion by all the parties involved. What should have simple matter with deserving punishments is being translated into drama – a nourishment for the lesser souls. Don’t get me wrong, I am not hinting at leniency. I am asking for appropriateness. Despite all this, shoutout to Steve Smith for owning up; shoutout to Australians for turning up for the 4th game despite their integrity as humans being directly questioned. Shoutout to Cameron Bancroft for facing the camera.

What’s going to happen next? Plastic fans are going to walk away from cricket, like they did after the 2013 IPL scandal – these fans have commitment issues anyway. This issue is going to be used as a reference point for some vague justifications when Cricket will be needed to shown down than some other sport; damn.

What is going to happen 3-4 years down the line? I don’t know. What is going to happen on the next tour of South Africa? South Africans would have probably forgotten it. What is going to happen in Steve Smith’s next match away from home (I am hoping and wishing he comes back stronger)? He’s going to be booed, by ‘those’ fans. Doesn’t matter.

Let’s not forget – The difference between cheating and not cheating is getting caught.
In other words, “Not getting caught doesn’t mean not cheating.” Loosing the self-righteous attitude and starting to weigh moral situations against one’s own actions is very important. I’ll leave you with a food for thought – “What’s the point of catching ‘culprits’ if the broadcaster catches them only from the opposition?”. PS – Not my original thought but worth thinking about.

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