I find it surprising that, so far, only three players have acknowledged involvement in the scrabbling (worse than “tampering”) of the ball in the last South African test match. Any of the Australian bowlers who used the scrabbled ball would surely have immediately realised that they were handling a ball that had been scrabbled. At his (incomplete) press conference, David Warner refused to answer questions about whether other players were involved. Darren Lehmann’s decision to resign without holding a press conference meant he did not have any questions posed but he should have known if some form of forbidden activity was being used. The same applies to the CEO of Cricket Australia, James Sutherland, who, even if he was told there were only three scrabblers, should have left the question open.
Some will remember from their youth US singer Dean Martin singing this catchy tune “The bells are ringing for me and my gal. The birds are singing for me and my gal. Ev'rybody's been knowing to a wedding they're going. And for weeks they've been sewing every Suzie and Sal” With Frank Sinatra, Martin rose to the top before dying of emphanezema in the mid 1990s. Perhaps this fall from the top of his profession was the reason this song was the first one to come into my head when I heard of the appalling behaviour by Smith as captain of Australia’s cricket team in allowing the scrabbling of one side of the ball used in a test match. This has significance beyond cricket. It encourages widespread antagonism to other supposed leaders in Australian society and will make life more difficult for future Australian cricket teams, possibly even extending to other sports played internationally. The announced penalty imposed on only three players for only a year by cricket CEO Sutherland is a weak response that must be changed.