Cricket Australia has announced that there will be no reduction in the penalties imposed on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in the Newlands Test against South Africa in March 2018. The Australian Cricket Board announced the decision in a board meeting on Monday to consider a submission lodged by the Australian Cricketer’s Association (ACA) which called for the bans to be immediately lifted. The ACA had given the proposal after the Ethics Centre review concluded that Cricket Australia’s mindset of ‘winning without the cost’ was the main reason for the scandal in Cape Town.
The decision means Smith and Warner, who have been banned for a year, will not be able to play domestic cricket or international cricket until the end of March 2019. Bancroft, who was suspended for nine months for his role in the scandal, could return to domestic cricket by January 2019. Earl Eddings, the interim chairman of Cricket Australia, explained the rationale behind not reducing the bans.
“We believe the ongoing conversation about reducing the sanctions puts undue pressure on the three players - all of whom accepted the sanctions. Though we recognise that this decision will be disappointing for the ACA, we thank them for their submission. Our commitment to continue building a strong relationship between CA and the ACA in the interests of cricket in Australia remains. The Cricket Australia Board doesn't intend to consider further calls for amendments to the sanctions,” Eddings said.
Bancroft’s first international assignment, should be considered, could be the Sri Lanka Tests that begin in mid-January. On the other hand, Smith and Warner could play international cricket before the World Cup if Pakistan decide to move the scheduled ODI series from March to April.
Cricket Australia stated that all the elements of ACA’s recommendations were considered and the submission was deliberated at length. The Board maintained that the length and nature of the sanctions was appropriate considering the damage to Australian cricket. The ACA has called the Board’s decision “disappointing” and announced the matter was closed
Massive fall-out from ball-tampering scandal
The ball-tampering scandal erupted in the Cape Town Test against South Africa when Bancroft was caught on camera trying to alter the condition of the ball with yellow sandpaper from his pocket. The controversy resulted in Smith and Warner being banned by Cricket Australia for a year and Bancroft for nine months, with Warner being permanently banned by the Board from holding a leadership position.
In the wake of the scandal, an Ethics Centre report to review Australian Cricket Culture was published and it criticised Cricket Australia’s mentality of fostering a philosophy to 'win without counting the cost'. Another report in the form of the Longstaff Review was constituted which looked in Cricket Australia’s cultural failings. The review criticised Cricket Australia as "arrogant and controlling" and that players lived in a "gilded bubble". This resulted in the resignation of Chairman David Peever.