DURBAN - Former South African captain Dr Ali Bacher labelled Australia’s ball-tampering attempts as ‘incredibly stupid’, as the rest of the cricket world came to terms with a dark day for the sport.
“In this age of a thousand cameras, it was stupid to even think of doing it - and incredibly stupid to then go through with it,” Bacher said.
Bacher lay the blame squarely on the leadership of the Australian side, and added that Cameron Bancroft was probably left with little option as a newcomer to the team.
“When a company goes wonky, you look at the CEO. You have to put the blame of this on the captain, and I would think that Cricket Australia will think long and hard about taking it further than the one-match that Steve Smith has already got,” Bacher pointed out.
“I feel sorry for Bancroft, because he would have been acting under instruction. If the leader of the team says you must do that, what option do you really have with seven Tests under your belt?”
Bacher said he expected Cricket Australia’s investigation to take the matter further, agreeing that Smith faced an uncertain future.
“One thing that they have always done is act immediately on things like this. You look back at Shane Warne, who had a brilliant cricket brain, but he never got the captaincy because of his misdemeanours. I would be very surprised if they didn’t take this further,” he warned.
Bacher played in nine Test matches against Australia, but was saddened by the spirit in which much of the current series has been conducted.
“What has happened throughout this series is a blemish for world cricket,” the captain of the last South African team to beat Australia on home soil bemoaned.
Bacher led South Africa to the famous whitewash of a powerful, Bobby Simpson-led Australian side, but maintained that those contests were played in the right spirit.
“Whenever we played Australia, it was different. You could feel the tension. It was tough, and hard. But I can’t recall any of the players on either side sledging. Not once. Australia and South Africa play similarly, but what has happened has seen a healthy rivalry getting out of hand.
“Things have got personal, and the series has got out of control. It has been sad to see two great Test nations crossing the line, because it must be remembered that it has been both sides,” he reminded.
Like many, Bacher voiced his displeasure for that so-called line, and how the game goes about administering it.
“Who determines when you cross this line? Sledging and the like just shouldn’t be part of cricket.”
Ahead of the fourth Test, Bacher called for leadership from both boards to step in, and look to restore the healthy respect that has marked the rivalry between two great cricketing nations.
“I think both boards need to draw a line on what has been a bad episode, and say ‘let’s get back on an even keel’. This is a great rivalry, and it has been very sad to see it go down the road it has taken for most of the series,” he concluded.
The fourth and final Test starts at The Wanderers on Friday.