Cameron Bancroft gestures while fielding on day three of the third Test between South African and Australia at Newlands on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Cameron Bancroft gestures while fielding on day three of the third Test between South African and Australia at Newlands on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO, David Richardson, sopeaks at a press conference. Photo: EPA/DAVE HUNT
International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO, David Richardson, sopeaks at a press conference. Photo: EPA/DAVE HUNT

DURBAN - The shamed Cameron Bancroft tweeted not so long ago about how sneaky speeding cameras were. We have all been there, taken off-guard by a camera we forgot was there, and had to suffer the consequences.

When we see it in others, we quietly snigger at their misfortune, and thank our lucky stars that it is not our turn to face the music. The cricket world, outside Australia, has sniggered at Steve Smith and his men, morally lording it over their foes, as they wallow in their graceless pit after descending from high ground to supposed scum of the earth.

To be sure, most of the members within the cricket community have dabbled in trying to find an edge on the field. Some, who hover at the bottom of the food chain, have even been punished on historical suspicion alone, while a privileged few seem to get away with the slap of a silver-spooned brat caught with his greedy mitts in the caviar.

As in all walks of life, cricket has shown itself to be fairer to some than others.

Cheating is cheating and, like speeding beyond the limit, there ought to be proper consequences to be faced for those who commit those crimes. Even attempting to cheat and bungling the whole thing still warrants punishment.

The consequences handed out by the ICC have not nearly met public approval, but a lot of things that the ICC have done lately have fallen short of the mark, according to the people.

Indeed, if there was a power beyond the ICC, one may wonder if cricket’s ultimate power suits would also have been hauled to the office to explain the manner in which they have governed a sport spilling out of control. In times of anarchy, the game deserves a stronger hand, one that reminds all those under its guise that competing at the highest level is a privilege, not a right.

The laws are outdated, and the compelling evidence shown by officials coming down harder on passionate, if misguided exuberance (Kagiso Rabada) rather than downright deceit (Australia) or the collective mayhem in Sri Lanka, shows that the game’s laws need a refresher course for its priorities.

It is all well and good for Dave Richardson to sit up high in Dubai and send condemnation in an attachment, but until he rolls up his sleeves and tears up the current sanctions, it is merely lip service.

And until then, we will have to look at individual boards like Cricket Australia to hand out the appropriate levels of contrition.

Punishment must fit the crime

The dust on the world’s latest ball-tampering scandal will eventually settle, but someone else will push the line again.

If the ICC’s going rate for trying to give your side the inside track in a competitive match is merely a loss of income and the scorn of the world for a week or two, you can be sure Newlands will not be the last we will hear of ball tampering.

Just as Newlands was not the first. Some of the biggest names in the world - some of whom now sit as social media judges - have gone down this dark alley, knowing full well the consequences.

We can doff a cap to the broadcast team which has paid particular attention to the passage of the ball in between actual play, because they have monitored the dark art for the entire series. Clearly, it was only a matter of time.

Much like breaking the speed limit and getting away with it, there are still enough leadership groups within teams out there who think it is part and parcel of the game; as acceptable as playing and missing, having a word, and looking at officials in the face and lying.

Australia have long held themselves in sneeringly high regard when it comes to the unwritten laws of the game, and they deserve every bit of criticism and scorn that has come their way.

But the deceit will probably continue elsewhere.

One would normally say it’s just not cricket, but the evidence suggests that it actually is. Speed thrills, you see. But cheating kills a game that is desperately fighting to reclaim its soul.

Thus, it can no longer be treated with such a lenient hand.

The Mercury

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