Michael Vaughan

The stain on Smith’s char­ac­ter will stay with him for­ever

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page -

This will stay with Steve Smith for ever and it is a sad state of af­fairs if he stays on as cap­tain. No mat­ter what he achieves in terms of scor­ing match-win­ning hun­dreds or lift­ing World Cups, it will al­ways be re­mem­bered that he cheated.

There was no ex­cuse for what Aus­tralia did and I can only think it is a sign that win­ning means too much to this team. They have to win at all costs, re­gard­less of laws or con­se­quences. They just can­not ac­cept that some­times the op­po­si­tion play bet­ter.

How they thought they would not get caught with all the cam­eras at a ground th­ese days is be­yond me. It was ut­terly brain­less, or per­haps des­per­a­tion to beat the sys­tem. You prob­a­bly would have got away with it in the Sev­en­ties and Eight­ies, but not in the modern game, and Aus­tralia should know that af­ter the in­ci­dent in Ho­bart in 2016 when Faf du Plessis was caught by tele­vi­sion cam­eras rub­bing a sweet on the ball.

There is a com­plete lack of self­aware­ness about this Aus­tralian team. They com­plain about sledg­ing from op­po­nents but are the worst abusers of the lot. Dar­ren Lehmann com­plained about abuse from sup­port­ers in Cape Town and Cricket Aus­tralia sent a let­ter to Cricket South Africa about it.

But it was only in 2013 that Lehmann is­sued a ral­ly­ing call to all Aus­tralian fans ask­ing them make Stuart Broad’s life hell and to send him home cry­ing from that win­ter’s Ashes se­ries. Now he com­plains to the ICC over a bit of abuse his play­ers have re­ceived in South Africa.

Ad­mit­ting cheat­ing is brave, and Eng­land would never have al­lowed those two play­ers to go out and face the mu­sic. I was fully ex­pect­ing lawyers to get in­volved. So I was sur­prised to see Smith and Ban­croft face the cam­eras. At least credit to them for that, but the big­gest crime is the fact it was a young player who did the deed. Whether Ban­croft was in­structed, we do not know. But he is a young crick­eter at the start of his ca­reer who has seen hugely re­spected fig­ures in the se­nior lead­er­ship team talk about ball-tam­per­ing dur­ing lunch and de­cide to do it.

I sus­pect Smith will just be banned for a cou­ple of games, prom­ise to clean up the side and be back. How­ever, this stain on his rep­u­ta­tion will not go away.

MICHAEL VAUGHAN

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