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