Even as the Australians are using the Indian Premier League as a distraction from their ball tampering saga as well as a way to rebuild their ICC Cricket World Cup form and plans, the doubts and suspicions about the Australian cricket team continue to do the rounds.
It appeared that Australia’s recent success against India in the one day internationals had helped assuage some of the concerns Australia had going into the ICC Cricket World Cup about their batting order and form. However, even as Australia’s cricketers are using the IPL as a platform to put Australia’s troubles behind them, it appears that they cannot quite shake off the ghost of ball tampering quite yet.
For the past year, the ball tampering that damaged Australia’s reputation in the course of the Newlands Test has refused to leave the headlines. Even as Australia have tried desperately to focus on the redemption part of the return of Steven Smith and David Warner, not in Australian colours, but rather conveniently in IPL shades, the focus of the fallout of the ball tampering refuses to leave Australian cricket circles.
Furthermore, even as former Australian greats themselves are voicing serious concerns about the depth of the malice and whether enough has been done to go deep not only to unearth the truth but also, to find appropriate remedial measures, the story that once did the rounds when the story first broke out continues to gather storm. And not surprisingly it revolves around David Warner.
Although deliberate attempt is being made to shift focus by dubbing Warner’s enterprising IPL 2019 debut match innings, it has not really allowed people to shift the focus of the conspiracy theory that Warner, whose career was stated as being practically over, was blamed as the mastermind of the fiasco was in fact just a scapegoat to cover a deeper problem, one that penetrated more than just the ‘leadership group’ as stated by Smith in the press conference following the breaking out of the story last March in Cape Town.
Warner, who had been the perennial bad boy of cricket, was attributed even by his own team mate and fellow perpetrator, Cameron Bancroft, as being the one to hatch the idea in the first place of using sandpaper to manipulate the surface of the ball in a desperate attempt to change the course of the match. However, while it seemed fishy to many that the Australian team that did not want to have anything to do with Warner last year was willing to welcome him back into the fold right before the ICC Cricket World Cup, it has allowed for the emergency for the alleged back story that Warner was made to look back not only because of the escalating level of personal transgressions that involved Quinton de Kock but also, and perhaps more importantly, because Warner had apparently reported that the entire Australian team was in on the act, which did not amuse the rest of the team.
At the time of the ball tampering incident, Smith had suggested there was a group behind the decision and that he was merely a passerby who did nothing, which is quite serious in itself given that he was the captain and a batsman of fair repute at the time, and many conjectured that the bowlers could not have possibly been ignorant that the nature of the ball was being deliberately manipulated. It raised furious reactions back and forth and it seemed that Australia had more to cover up when Darren Lehmann, the coach at the time, refused to resign under pressure but eventually stepped down at the end of the Test tour. If Smith must be believed, then Warner alone is not culpable. That said, if Cameron was being a spokesperson for the rest of the team by throwing Warner under the bus for spilling the beans, it explains a lot. As conspiracies abound, this one would take the cake for the lack of clarity.
In what seems like unfinished business, perhaps it is for these cricketers to then convert their back stories into juicy bestsellers when a financially lucrative proposition presents itself though it leaves cricket none the richer now or in the future.