Sack the team. The whole team.
What a fall from grace this is. Steve Smith, the subject of not unreasonable debate around whether he is the greatest Test batsman since Bradman, is now a cheating captain who lacked the decency to fall on his sword after being caught.
Smith is done as captain. That’s it. Reputation dead. There’s no coming back from conspiring a plan to tamper with the cricket ball. And that his first reaction was defiance makes his fall ever worse.
But in admitting the act (because he had to… it’s on camera – there’s no pretending otherwise) he also decided to throw his entire team under the bus.
Abject failure from start to finish.
A ‘leadership team’?
So he speaks of an unnamed ‘leadership team’ working together to concoct an entirely dim-witted plan to use some sort of tape to secretly work the ball over. By hiding names, but suggesting more than a few were involved, he’s ruined every reputation on the team.
In the long run, it is better we know they’re all fools than think it was all Smith’s lack of brains inflicted upon the team.
If he’d said “I made Bancroft do it, I’m sorry and I’m tendering my resignation”, we’d have others willing to cheat still in the team. That’s not good. But it’s astounding to me that he’s taken the path of the politician.
Admit failure but suggest that an apology makes everything OK and he wasn’t really the only one doing it so what’s the problem.
[That we expect better from our sports leaders than our political class is a debate for another day.]
Now we have an entire team tarred by the captain’s terrible judgment – starting in the dressing room at lunch and carrying through to his pathetic excuse for an apology.
With multiple players involved there’s only one good answer. Sack them all.
There are no innocents
In cheating, there can be no innocent bystanders. Everyone in the team has a duty to speak up and say no. And those who think of cheating ever again should know they will destroy the entire team if they proceed.
Because every one of these players is now part of ‘the team that cheated in Cape Town’.
And for Australia’s reputation to bounce back, the ‘leadership team’ here at home has to show that we’d rather lose than cheat.
Is there anything more stupid?
But right now, the cricket tragic in me expected our cricketers to be smarter than footballers.
The plan was ridiculous. Some sticky tape, rubbed in dirt and pulled in and out of a pocket. In a sport where every moment is captured at high frame rates by cameras at all angles.
If you’re going to conspire to cheat, you could at least come up with a better plan than that.
They were always going to be caught. And the tape idea was so pathetic that the umpires didn’t even change the ball – the tape idea had done precisely nothing to change its condition.
From start to finish, it was a brainless idea devised by a committee of fools.
That it didn’t work changes nothing. They all need to go.
What will it take?
So now the question falls to Cricket Australia. How swiftly will they move to restore our reputation? Or will they prevaricate and delay and make things even worse?
Will it take sponsors threatening to pull dollars? TV rights are being negotiated right at this moment – will broadcasters speed up saving face, or slow it further because they want the ‘superstars’ names up in lights next summer when it has all blown over?
This isn’t blowing anywhere, of course. This isn’t a wind, it’s mud. It sticks and it won’t wash off Smith, or anyone else on that fated tour.
Fans have woken up to a nightmare. Our team has no standing today. Kids have lost their heroes.
We need swift, decisive leadership from the suits here at home to show the world Australian cricket will not be defined by these losers. It’s the only way forward.
Back to square one. A new squad of youngsters and veterans who have been on the outside wishing they could represent their country at the highest level. A clean house where no one is tarred with being in that dressing room on that terrible day in Cape Town.