IOL Sport writer Lungani Zama.
The fallout from that crazy afternoon at Newlands last summer is still rumbling on. Who knew that sandpaper would tarnish so much, leave so few stones unturned?

It wasn’t enough to ban a few culprits, lose a coach, and the rights to the eternal line that ye shall not cross. No. The Australians are pursuing a new standard when it comes to behaviour in cricket. They are challenging their men and women to be better, and they are doing so very publicly.

Out of several catchphrases currently occupying the Aussie dressing-room, ‘Elite Honesty’ has to stand out as one of the most incredible. What does that even mean?! Is regular honesty no longer enough?

Seriously, what does that even mean? Are we to expect even the best batting Aussie to walk the minute he edges a ball, and not leave it up to technology to seal his fate? Perhaps players will ditch the rehearsed lines they roll out at press conferences, and find a new, elite form of straight shooting?

That would be elite. But it is also, sadly, very unlikely.

Are we seriously expected to believe that, due to one summer of shame, Australia will drop a century and more of hard-nosed, in-your-face cricket and become thoroughly decent blokes on the field? Seriously?

Will the likes of David Warner  he who bites at any line like the shad which inhabit the South Coast  now turn the other cheek, and simply be the bigger man in each, heated situation? Will Josh Hazlewood, the snarling heir to Glenn McGrath in the grumpy stakes, now smile politely when he is spanked to the fence?

That is incredibly hard to believe, given what we know of our favourite rivals from Down Under. And, if we are brutally honest, we wouldn’t want them to change their ways, aside from the occasional trip to the hardware store. That crosses the line, and the three who were fingered for that act have been punished accordingly.

It was quite funny to see some calls, this week, for those three to be allowed to play again. They have suffered enough, the players’ union suggested. No one forced Cricket Australia to impose the sanctions they did upon their captain, vice-captain and their opening bat.

They took the higher moral ground, and sought to send a message to the rest of the cricketing world. We hold ourselves to a higher moral standard, their decisive actions suggested.

To backtrack on that, and cut short these bans, would be an incredible change of gear. You can’t see it happening, but the rapidly-approaching battle against India will be poorer without two of Australia’s finest batsmen of this era.

The game loses out, but the game lost a hell of a lot more back in March, when Australia scraped their way into the books of unfavourable history. Back then, a touch of elite honesty was definitely missing from the Aussie team sheds. 'By any means necessary' was the mantra, and they found the most calculated of means.

That is gone now, and the scathing report that was released this week spoke of an arrogant Australian culture, where the win-at-all-costs attitude was torn to shreds. Even the suits were slammed, for what has happened on their watch.

No punches were pulled there, and you do have to acknowledge that unwavering stance from the report on ‘Sandpaper-gate’. As for the commitment to do things differently, that will come with time.

As that wild, late March weekend in Cape Town proved, actions still speak infinitely louder than any well-meaning words ever will.


Sunday Tribune

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