#balltampering

Never again

Make Steve Smith captain again? On what grounds? He repented? It is irrelevant. He showed in the Sth Africa tour that the job was way beyond him. The best player isn’t always the best captain.

Yes we all make mistakes, but to turn a blind eye to cheating only proves that he doesn’t deserve another chance. Would you want a doctor to operate on you whose last 10 patients died under his scalpel?

Yet The Guardian‘s Russel Cunningham makes the argument that he didn’t break the law and the team has lost its “mongrel mojo” without him at the helm. Really? Under Tim Paine and Adam Finch the performances seem pretty decent. Not worthy of dumping either of them. Coach Justin Langer is doing a splendid job reshaping the side.

Steve Smith should never captain Australia again. What message do we send to aspiring kids? It’s ok little Johnny if you cheat. You’ll be forgiven. To make Smith captain of Australia again would take us back to the attitudes perpetrated by the previous board. No thanks.

Marc Marquez memes have mutated

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The memes have already started for the dodgem car race style of Marc Marquez. The fallout from this is likely to be huge. He is without doubt the greatest talent on track. To be able to do a ride through penalty after only 6 laps of a short track and still come out of pit lane ahead of a 5x world champ Jorge Lorenzo who is riding the most powerful bike on the grid speaks volumes about his skill. Yet he punted the 21 year veteran of the game who has more fans, history and records than most of the grid combined. Marquez will soon feel like the the barber in The Untouchables who cut Al Capone while shaving him. Deliberately cutting up Capone in front of the mob isn’t something they’ll forgive easily. The booing in Argentina was severe. Marquez is a 6x world champion but the question is can he act as one when it matters? He may have been forgiven in 2015 but not after yesterday.

Marquez said the move on Aleix Espargaro earlier on was far harsher than that on Rossi, just that the latter crashed in a racing incident (in his view “nothing crazy”) that copped the biggest penalty. Marquez tried to cover his mistake saying, “Honestly speaking I don’t care, I’m just focussed on my box and I know what happened. Of course today I did a few mistakes – a few of those mistakes were from Race Direction and a few were mine. And I recognise and will try to improve for the future.”

Yamaha Movistar Team boss Lin Jarvis said,

“I think it’s pretty obvious from anyone watching the TV images that it’s a move that is totally unacceptable…So it was the number X of many moves that were unacceptable throughout the weekend. We had issues in free practice when he very nearly missed Maverick one time…There have been several incidents against other riders – not our riders – but other riders throughout the weekend. In the race there was a big one with Aleix. There was another one with Nakagami and then with others. Finally he ran Valentino off the track. That’s just not acceptable – period.”

Rossi also sounded off after the collision,

“I’m okay but this is a very bad situation because he destroyed our sport, because he doesn’t have any respect for his rivals, never…If you take for example what’s happened this weekend, one by one these things can happen to everybody. You can make a mistake in braking. You can touch the other guy. Happens. This is racing…

…But from Friday morning he make like this with Vinales, Dovizioso. He made like this with me on Saturday morning. And today in the race he go straight into four riders…He does it purposely – and it’s not a mistake – because he points the leg, between the leg and the bike, because he knows that he don’t crash, but you crash. He hopes that you crash.

“So, if you start to play like this, it’s like you raise the level to a very dangerous point… Because if all the riders race like this, without any respect for the rivals, this is a very dangerous sport and it can finish in a bad way

 [His apology is] a joke. First of all he don’t have the balls to come in my office alone, but he come like always with his manager, with Honda, in front of all the cameras because what is important for him is this. He don’t care about you…So I don’t want to speak with him. I don’t want to see him close to me because I know it’s not true what he say to me…I hope that he is clever enough to don’t come…

MotoGP is worried that it is without a star to replace Rossi when he retires in several years. So much of the sport’s growth has been down to him. Marquez was supposed to be the coming rider to fill his boots. In skill he has it in spades, his ability to smile for cameras is a strong suit but these incidents against the man he was supposed to replace will create headaches for race organizer, Dorna Sports. He is now a villain and rebuilding that image looks like a lost cause. All smells a bit like the Aussie Cricket team antics in South Africa.

The sincerity of Steve Smith

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Two things were evident in his Sydney press conference. Three if you include the sick stunt pulled off by KIIS FM to mock Smith’s cheating as a distant second to a couple from Married at First Sight (MAFS). First, Steve Smith sounded sincere in his apology and his eyes looked like a man in utter distress. Second, we saw a man who was clearly intimidated by his deputy and let that get the better of him. Smith knows this will haunt him forever, as it should. At least he took ‘full’ responsibility.

Still for all of the millions these sports stars are paid, he buried his judgement and did something so monumentally stupid. How much Warner, the team ruffian, pushed him into accepting they would cheat is beside the point. The captain should have exercised his position there and then. Smith knows it was a catastrophic moment of weakness. Therefore why there is speculation he might have a shot at the position to be captain again in a couple of years is kind of pointless. He has shown he is well out of his depth in leading that team. It is a folly often made by groups to appoint the best performer as the leader.

With the bat, Smith has reached the top through sheer talent. No tampering has affected his ability to amass an average that is close to approaching the late, great Sir Don Bradman. That was his ability. Being at the top should have meant that he never needed to cheat. Still, greed acts in ways that makes people do foolish things. To think his golden goose has now been well and truly crisped. It is one thing to be sorry, it is another to willfully dupe others for considerable personal financial gain with the hope one isn’t caught red-handed.

It is fraud in any other language. In the finance industry one can go to jail for market manipulation. Should sports stars get more leniency than bankers? After all had ball tampering allowed the players to extract bigger match fees and bonuses over years isn’t that the same as rigging interest rates or insider trading?

After listening to Bancroft’s press conference, it was surprising no questions touched on the sugar in the pocket during the Ashes series. He claimed Newlands was it. Should it be found that the cheating has been going on for longer, then the bans set out for the perpetrators is way too short. The problem with lying is that the truth is easier to remember.

The Jester’s Court hands down a verdict on the cheats

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It is a good job that Cricket Australia (CA) doesn’t conduct murder forensics. It would be fascinating to know how the investigations over ball tampering were conducted. The case would appear open and shut. Only three people knew according to CA. Job done. Inside 3 days. All facts have been collected and harsher punishments will be dealt later on. Does this seem like a thorough investigation for the biggest scandal in Australian cricket? Not for a minute.

Was each team member, coaching staff and support crew separately asked and interrogated several times, not only  in front of a panel, but each individual investigator in order to make sure the stories corroborated with post the briefings over several days and weeks? Were follow up meetings conducted in consecutive days to make sure the stories didn’t change? Was evidence of team WhatsApp chats voluntarily offered to exonerate players? By the sounds of it, this looks like a severe containment exercise within a private club. Seemingly no independent investigation and an expedited trial to limit damage.

The tweet from Cricket Australia telling us that the CEO reports Steve Smith is distraught speaks volumes. Apart from being the least valuable information possible, it almost wants fans to feel sympathy for his remorse. It is a joke. A man earning millions a year bet his career on allowing his team to cheat. Whether Warner pressured him and he was too weak to stop him is no excuse. Anyone with half a brain would know better. Still it shows the true light of the investigation – Steve is upset…don’t go too hard on him because he is a nice guy, no really….

The recent reports that staff within the CA can’t stand ring leader David Warner for his “bullsh1t” paint a picture of ridiculously poor ethics throughout the organisation’s senior  management. If Warner has gone rogue, then it is worth investigating every claim he makes no matter how far fetched to get to the truth. Sadly it seems that the investigation wanted to sandpaper a scripted outcome to ensure the reverse swing on the trial whizzes straight by the fans so things can get back to normal ASAP. The jig is up. Cricket Australia will likely find sponsorship from the local butchers going forward because it will be hard for mainstream corporates to back such a sham. The future of cricket is far bleaker than we think.

Australian Cricket Family?

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Just how stupid does the CEO James Sutherland take fans for? Indeed if there are any left. If this is crisis management, Cricket Australia will fold under the weight of its own incompetence. What has the ‘head of integrity been doing for small these years? The shame this incident has brought upon a nation cannot be trivialized. Moreover the use of a logo with “Australian Cricket Family” is some sort of politically correct “we’re all in this together” appeal. No, we aren’t. You’re in this by yourselves.The CEO can’t deflect responsibility for something that was under his control. The culture that has led to this farce can’t be put down to being blindsided or aloof. Ball tampering seems to have occurred prior to the South African test if the video footage of the recent Ashes series in Australia is any guide. India also made similar claims. It isn’t hard to believe this cheating hasn’t been institutionalized for some time.

Heads must roll. Restoring faith? That all depends how the CEO deals with this. Leniency will be punished severely by fans, yet its odds on that management will believe that memories are short and Smith’s skills are a greater asset than the mugs that go the games and  pay his wages. To that end it is bang in line with Cricket Australia’s internal governance code – Lacking Board Wisdom (LBW).

Lack of ethics coaching stems from the top

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Australia’s collapse in the 3rd test against South Africa after the cheating scandal broke spoke volumes. Looking at the highlights one could see many of the players couldn’t wait to leave the ground to escape the booing. True colours. All that happened was to be able to witness a bunch of prima donnas’ inner mental weakness exposed to sunlight.

It was April last year when the players were protesting over pay and conditions. Winners were grinners as the cricket board acquiesced their demands. Oh, to have the upper hand due to exemplary skills on the field knowing it converted to juicier broadcasting rights for their paymasters. One might imagine that hidden within the contract terms, players would receive “extra” bonuses for winning. So in order to get that cash, sometimes extra methods would be required to win. Cheating was clearly seen by the “leadership” team as acceptable if it triggered incentives. Most companies would fire employees for doing the same.

As mentioned yesterday, a team that has the capacity to stoop to such levels has no proper internal controls. The coaching staff must have been blind If they were not able to see the flaws in team dynamics. While (former) Captain Steve Smith denies the coaching staff were aware of the plans to cheat, it is hard to fathom being so close to a team for so long that signs of its internal lack of governance were not evident.

Cricket Australia should rescind the contracts of the perpetrators. They should never be allowed to represent the country again, no matter how talented they may be. I would be far happier to see my team lose and work hard to turn the fortunes through grit rather than win through false means. If sponsors leave the players and the organization, no sympathy should be felt. They reap what they sow.

Cricket Australia needs to clean house. It is evident it is little more than a club run where ethics coaching takes a back seat. No trust can be restored until most if not all senior members of the management team resign or are removed. Same for coaching staff and players. If the world’s best batsman can’t inspire a team by his own amazing abilities on the field, then he has no place leading it off it. Having said that the best player doesn’t always make the best captain.

Yet it is likely a short suspension, loss of captaincy and a big fine will be seen as enough warning to prevent further incidents. Personally (and I’m not alone) I have no interest seeing cheats represent my country no matter how repentant. Smith and his culprits can play in the Indian IPL but should Cricket Australia go soft (every likelihood that it will) fans will desert them. CM doesn’t want to see social media driven boycotts. It seems apparent to every Australian CM has spoken to that they’ve already made their minds up. Good riddance. You killed your own golden goose.