There was an audacity about it, carried out with amateurish callowness. As it turned out Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft, besieged and vulnerable, had been egged on by Australian cricket captain Steve Smith and the Australian leadership to do the insufferable: tamper with the ball.
Before the remorseless eagle eyes of modern cameras, Bancroft, in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town, was detected possessing yellow adhesive tape intended to pick up dirt and particles that would, in turn, be used on the ball’s surface. This, it was assumed, was intended to give Smith’s team an advantage over an increasingly dominant South Africa.
The reaction from the head of Cricket Australia, John Sutherland, was one of distress. “It’s a sad day for Australian cricket.” Australian veteran cricketers effused horror and disbelief. Former captain Michael Clarke wished this was “a bad dream”.
One of the greatest purveyors of slow bowling in the game’s history, Shane Warne, expressed extreme disappointment “with the pictures I saw on our coverage here in Cape Town. If proven the alleged ball tampering is what we all think it is – then I hope Steve Smith (Captain) [and] Darren Lehmann (Coach) do the press conference to clean this mess up!”
Indignation, not to mention moral and ethical shock, should be more qualified. This, after all, is a murky area of cricket. An injunction against ball tampering may well be enforced but players have…