The expression “it’s just not cricket” is old-time Australian slang about the importance of fair play. This was a sport where the values of sportsmanship, fair play and honesty were paramount. That’s why breaching those values – as captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and player Cameron Bancroft did during the third test in South Africa is so odious. As with the 1981 underarm bowling outrage involving Greg and Trevor Chappell, the punishment should be swift and brutal. This is particularly so given the Australian conceit of being the nation of fair play. That may have been the case during the Don Bradman era, but sadly it has long passed.
Sadly ethics and honesty are undervalued attributes, with today’s young people being inculcated with the importance of diversity and equality of cultures while being embarrassed by traditional western values held tight from the Enlightenment.
A key role of a board of directors is to set and uphold the values of an organisation, to ensure the continued good reputation of the organisation. In this Cricket Australia has failed miserably. On what planet is it considered alright to cheat – for that is exactly what the ball tampering is – provided it is not discovered? The tone of the organisation is set from the top, which is why Smith and Warner should take responsibility. But so should all of the board members: David Peever, Earl Eddings, Bob Every, John Harnden, Tony Harrison, Jacquie Hey, Michael Kasprowicz, Mark Taylor and Michelle Tredenick.
The board should have set a zero tolerance policy for cheating, with swift and brutal punishment. Given the disrepute that the Australian cricket team has brought upon Australia the punishment should be a life ban. The board of Cricket Australia should now come out and clearly articulate that cheating is unacceptable, will not be tolerated and that any player who engages in cheating, or turns a blind eye to cheating, will never play again.
Instead we have the board obfuscate by refusing to use the ‘cheating’ word – it’s a minor infraction, and the players’ judgement was wrong is the official line.
That doesn’t wash. Cricket Australia should come clean and acknowledge that it was cheating and that the players involved deliberately did not uphold the values to which Cricket Australia subscribes.
And it’s about time that the ridiculous amounts of money paid to players is brought under control. This and the pampering of the players has helped build their egos and sense of entitlement and thus the hubris that they are above the law and above the norms of society. If cricketers can be paid such vast sums, the game needs to receive no taxpayer subsidy. Yet about $300 million a year of taxpayers’ money goes to the Australian Sports Commission. Then we have the stadiums built and maintained by governments and other transfers from the taxpayer, but not collecting sufficient revenue from sports to meet ongoing maintenance let alone to pay back the capital cost of construction.
If taxpayers’ money is involved, the maximum salary should be set to the public sector rates, which are already high by world standards. As it stands the taxpayer subsidises the sport, the taxpayer builds and maintains the sporting facility, and the patron pays a high ticket fee just to fund a luxury lifestyle for sportsmen which are so out of touch from the average taxpayer to be in the top 0.0001% of the income distribution.