CHENNAI: When Steve Smith admitted being part of the plan to tamper with the ball out of desperation, little he would have known what was in store. News emerging from Down Under suggests the Australia Captain confronted the questions and later admitted to the guilt so as not to throw a junior player — Cameron Bancroft — under the bus.
As Smith boarded the long flight to Sydney from Johannesburg — escorted by the local cops, one holding his right arm — and the magnitude of not just the punishment, but also what he has lost on and off the field sinks in, there would be a huge vacuum inside Smith.
He is no longer the captain of the Australian team, and it would need the public to change perception for the CA to even consider him for the leadership role after two years. The most damning part is he can’t wear the Baggy Green for 12 months (although on paper, he has the provision to appeal) and the most he can do now is try his luck with county cricket. But whether the English — who have been vocal about the episode — give him a lifeline will be known in the coming weeks.
What is certain for Smith and his deputy is they won’t even get to fill their pockets via IPL contracts as the BCCI has taken a decision to bar the two from participating in this year’s edition. While Smith was set to lead Rajasthan Royals, David Warner had been named captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The onus on whether to include the two players after the CA said that they are free to play club cricket “to maintain link with cricket community” was on the BCCI.
Express understands that the decision to leave out the duo was taken after carefully thinking about the repercussions the league will have if they were allowed to play.
In simple words, the corporate world which has invested a lot in the IPL and the sponsors seem to have felt the time is not right for the duo to feature in the competition. Though the BCCI and the IPL governing council waited for CA to announce its sanctions, it is reliably learnt that the process was already set in motion with the franchises being told of the worst possible scenario as early as Monday.
“The timing of the tournament was not just right for them to play. Had it stared a month later, the issue would have died down and it wouldn’t have been an issue for the sponsors. But had we included them now, they would be in the forefront of all promotional events and that wouldn’t have given any good mileage to the brand of IPL. The league has its own share of controversies and to have one more even before this edition has begun wouldn’t have helped the broadcaster who has just come on board paying a huge amount,” said an official who was part of the decision to ban Smith and Warner from IPL.
Though the quantum of punishment might sound harsh, the CA too has taken the decision keeping in mind its broadcast deal that is up for renewal later this year.
Points to note
Both Warner and Smith will not be able to play for Australia for a year, as well as domestic cricket (apart from grade cricket). Same applies to Bancroft, but he has been banned for nine months.
100 hours of voluntary service in community cricket for all three, which will entail non-playing activities like scoring and umpiring.
Warner will not be considered for team leadership positions. Bancroft & Smith can be considered after two years.
All three have right to appeal their verdicts and penalty duration.
Smith and Warner will miss India’s Tour of Australia in the year-end & ODI series in India next March. Both will be eligible for WC selection.