Cricket Australia rules out cutting ball-tampering bans

Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will all have to serve their full bans for ball-tampering, Cricket Australia ruled Tuesday after reviewing a submission by the players’ union to cut the penalties.

CA interim chairman Earl Eddings said the board had “determined that it is not appropriate to make any changes to the sanctions handed down to the three players”.

Smith and Warner, then Australia’s captain and vice-captain, were banned from state and international cricket for 12 months over the incident in South Africa in March, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months.

There had been pressure on the governing body to reinstate them amid a recent dire run of results, with the decision condemning Australia to a summer of cricket without their best players for Tests against India and Sri Lanka.

The scandal, which rocked the sport, had far-reaching consequences in Australia with a clean-out of top executives from CA after a scathing review blamed its “arrogant and controlling” culture as partly contributing to players bending the rules.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association submitted an appeal last month, arguing that the blame attributed to CA by the independent review was grounds to have the bans lifted with the trio “punished enough”.

READ MORE: From Bradman to villain: Steve Smith’s epic fall from grace

But Eddings, who became temporary chairman this month after David Peever was forced out, said the punishment fitted the crime.

“CA maintains that both the length and nature of the sanctions remain an appropriate response in light of the considerable impact on the reputation of Australian cricket, here and abroad,” he said.

“Steve, David and Cameron are working hard to demonstrate their commitment to cricket and have our continued support to ensure their pathway to return is as smooth as possible.”

Bancroft’s ban for attempting to alter the ball with sandpaper is due to expire on December 29 while Smith and Warner must wait until March 29 to play for their country again.

Case closed

Since the furore erupted, the national team has been in a form slump with some high-profile ex-players calling for Smith and Warner to be brought back as soon as possible, to the domestic Sheffield Shield competition at least.

Others argued that the bans should stay as all three players accepted their sanctions.

“We believe the ongoing conversation about reducing the sanctions puts undue pressure on the three players — all of whom accepted the sanctions earlier this year — and the Australian men’s cricket team,” Eddings said.

“As such, the Cricket Australia board doesn’t intend to consider further calls for amendments to the sanctions.”

While the scandal initially unleashed a torrent of vitriol against the players, their tearful apologies on arrival home tugged at the heartstrings, particularly Smith — considered Australia’s golden boy — who said he cried for four days in the wake of his downfall.

Despite being banned from state and international cricket, they have been allowed to play at club level in Australia and in domestic tournaments abroad.

Smith and Warner made their return to the game at a Global Twenty20 tournament in Canada in late June while Bancroft played a low-level limited-overs event in Darwin.

Warner and Smith, who have been doing community service as part of their punishment, shared a home field for the first time since the row at a club game in Sydney this month, where they were warmly received.

They spent time signing autographs and posing for pictures, with no sign of animosity towards them from the bumper crowd.

© Agence France-Presse

Martin Parry
Martin Parry
AFP News Editor for Australia/New Zealand/Pacific
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