'Cheating is cheating': Cricket legends blast Steve Smith appointment

Publish Date
Sat, 27 Nov 2021, 2:17PM
Smith Smith looks up in a press conference after admitting to cheating. (Photo / Getty)
Smith Smith looks up in a press conference after admitting to cheating. (Photo / Getty)

'Cheating is cheating': Cricket legends blast Steve Smith appointment

Publish Date
Sat, 27 Nov 2021, 2:17PM

Cricket Australia may have forgiven Steve Smith's role in the Cape Town ball tampering scandal but several Aussie cricket legends have shown the tough path he still has to travel. 

Pat Cummins was named the first quick bowler since Ray Lindwall in 1956 to captain Australia and was unveiled alongside Smith as his vice-captain in the aftermath of Tim Paine's shock resignation as skipper amid his sexting scandal. 

While the Cummins-Smith ticket was widely expected to lead Australia in the post-Paine era, it hasn't shielded Smith from the criticism after the effects of the Cape Town scandal still linger in Australian cricket. 

Smith was the captain at the time and was handed a year ban and two-year leadership ban, along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for the sandpaper-gate scandal. 

Warner, the then vice-captain, also received a year ban, as well as a lifetime leadership ban. 

Smith did touch on the expected criticism in a press conference after the leadership team was revealed. 

"I've been in a position the last few years playing as a leader and now the opportunity obviously to be standing here next to Patrick as a formal leader, a titled leader, I'm truly honoured," he told reporters. 

"There will be some negativity from some people around it, I understand that and I get that, but for me, I know that I've grown a great deal over the last three or four years. 

"I'm a more rounded individual, and in turn, it's turned me into a better leader and I'm excited to be in this position next to Patrick." 

Ian Chappell takes aim at CA hypocrisy 

But as Smith was welcomed back into the leadership fold, former Aussie stars took aim at the appointment. 

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell praised the appointment of Cummins as skipper, saying the NSW quick was an inspiring player with "a heart the equivalent of Dennis Lillee". 

But while he liked the top of the ticket, Chappell took aim at Smith's appointment as the vice-captain of the team. 

Although Cummins reportedly asked for Smith to be his deputy as he took over the top job, the former Australian captain said he wanted Cricket Australia to forge a new path. 

"I wish that Cricket Australia had made a clean break, but for Cricket Australia to get anything right at the moment is asking a bit much," Chappell said on 2GB's Wide World of Sports radio. 

"For starters, I have a problem — why is Steve Smith looked upon as a different punishment to David Warner? In fact, if anything, I think Steve Smith's crime was greater. 

"For a captain to say, 'I don't want to know' when cheating is involved, is not correct. A captain's got to know, he's got to find out and he's got to do something about it. 

"Either Steve Smith has a two-year ban from captaincy and so does David Warner, or Steve Smith has a life ban and so does Dave Warner. Same thing. 

"Cheating is cheating, whether it's big cheating or little cheating, it's still cheating in my book. If I'd have cheated as an Australian captain — I mean I made a lot of mistakes but I didn't cheat. And if I had of cheated, and if I had of done what Tim Paine did, I would have expected Cricket Australia to not ask me to resign, they would have taken the job away from me and made sure I didn't continue to play as a player." 

Chappell also pointed to the sacking of Bill Lawry as captain in 1971 as an example of what Australia has traditionally done. Lawry was fired as Australian captain after an Ashes loss in Australia, a decision that led to Chappell taking over the captaincy reins. 

"I remember talking to Neil Harvey years after I finished playing and I said why didn't you take Bill Lawry to England as a player because Bill definitely deserved a place in the team and I think we would have won in '72 if we had Bill as a player," Chappell said. "And Neil Harvey said straight out 'we don't have former captains in a team where we've got a new captain'. You might change that a little bit and you might still have Steve Smith and David Warner as players, but you don't have them as captain or vice-captain." 

Chappell added that if he had done "a pretty stupid crime" like Paine, he said he would have expected to be told "I lost the job, not only as a captain but as a player". 

He continued to say that "Cricket Australia haven't learned anything", pointing to Shane Warne and Mark Waugh's "John the bookmaker" controversy and said it was worse because it only came to light years later. 

"If they haven't worked out that a crime is far worse if you try to cover it up and then it will eventually get discovered anyhow, if they haven't worked that out now, when are they going to work it out?" Chappell said. 

'Out the window': Warne savages Smith appointment 

Chappell wasn't alone though as other legends had their say on Smith's leadership return. 

Spin king Shane Warne also slammed the fact Smith can return to a leadership position while David Warner remains suspended from ever captaining or vice-captaining his country again. 

"We all love Steve Smith and are proud that he's the best Test batsmen in the world again," Warne wrote in an exclusive column for the Herald Sun. "But he should not be the Australian vice-captain. 

"Everyone makes mistakes, we know that and we've all moved on from sandpaper-gate. But that happened under Steve Smith's captaincy, he allowed that to happen on his watch. 

"I think the punishment he was given was way too severe, which I said at the time. He paid a huge price for his mistake. 

"But his second chance is getting to play for Australia again and in my opinion announcing him as vice-captain opens up CA for ridicule and criticism, and they should throw the code of conduct out the window." 

The Spin King added Warner has "the best cricket brain in the team" and called for Marnus Labuschagne to be named vice-captain. 

On Thursday former captain Michael Clarke said Smith would have to avoid looking like he was taking the reins of the team on the field, if he was selected as Cummins' deputy. 

He told Big Sports Breakfast that Smith had to "be very careful" and make sure it was clear Cummins was calling the shots. 

Smith was slammed by Chappell of "white-anting" Paine in 2019 when he appeared to make fielding adjustments without speaking to the wicketkeeper. 

Clarke added Smith won't be able to hide from the spotlight, as evidenced by the wave of condemnation that erupted over his crease-scuffing controversy last summer. 

Smith was accused of "cheating" after shadow batting at the crease while Australia was in the field before re-marking centre, during the final Test against India in Sydney. 

The former Aussie skipper was stunned by the reaction and questions about his integrity, admitting he could barely sleep after the game. 

Clarke said the scrutiny would be so much worse if he was in a leadership position. 

"I don't think Steve Smith understands how extreme it is going to be," Clarke said 

"He got a tiny glimpse of it last summer against India when he scuffed the pitch and was called the biggest cheat on the planet. I don't think he understands how heavy it is going to be on him." 

By - news.com.au