oppn parties Is The ICC Blind To The Gravity of Smith's Offence?

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Is The ICC Blind To The Gravity of Smith's Offence?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
A one-match suspension and docking of 100% of match fees is all one gets from the ICC for conspiring with one’s whole team (including the coaching staff) to cheat and bring the game into disrepute. Steve Smith has, as always, got away very lightly. This was an offence that deserved a lifetime ban from ICC if for no other reason than for the fact that as captain of Australia he was setting a disgusting example for younger players which could spawn a generation of cheats. If Smith gets away this lightly, others will not be deterred in future. There is hope though – Cricket Australia (CA) is thinking of setting an example by handing out exemplary punishment to Smith and Warner and this could well be a life ban.

Media outside India often targets Virat Kolhi for displaying aggression on the field. But he becomes a novice in front of what Smith frequently does and is never censured for, in fact even praised as he is quick to apologize. Remember the way he first called Murali Vijay a “f*****g cheat” and then apologized. The then chairman of CA sought to dismiss it as a spur of the moment comment induced by the extreme competitiveness in sport and lauded Smith for displaying exemplary leadership qualities by apologizing. But by papering over his many shortcomings, the cricketing administration and the media in Australia made him a demon. The result is that he has now stooped to the level of a conspiring cheat, shamefully involving his entire team in the ugly episode.

The ICC has to rethink its punishment. If it was one player acting on his own, this would have been a good enough punishment. But since the captain was involved and he hatched a plan to cheat systematically, this punishment is not enough. ICC must punish Smith and others using the Level 4 clause 2.4.4 that says “Where the facts of the alleged incident are not adequately or clearly covered by any of the above offences, conduct that either: (a) is contrary to the spirit of the game; or (b) brings the game into disrepute.” If need be, ICC must insert a proviso saying that anyone who breaches 2.4.4 will be banned for life. This proviso can be made effective retrospectively. If this cannot be done, then the ICC must insert a new clause that provides for a life ban if a team management resorts to cheating or bringing the game into disrepute.

One wonders how the ICC can allow a cheat like Smith to sit with youngsters in the Australian or for that matter, any other dressing room or dug out. What kind of example will it set if a cheat who used his position of authority to lure younger players to become a part of his vile plan is allowed to continue playing? What signal will that send to cricket fans? Cricket has already lost a lot of its sheen through regular reports of match-fixing. If cheats like Steve Smith are allowed to get away lightly, the remaining trust will also vanish. Smith got name and fame from cricket. He chose to shred the reputation of the game in return. Now, he must be made to pay for it by not being allowed to play any form of cricket for life.