What happens when what you grew up worshipping turns to be just another lie? What happens when those whom you grew up looking up to turn to be just another bunch of people who will stop at nothing for a win? What happens when everything you’ve dreamed of turns out to be just another nightmare? What happens when those who preach integrity everyday somehow happen to be living in dark themselves? What happens when the so called custodians of hard and fair play happen to be just another bunch of cheats?
What happens when you find out that the Australia of Allan Border, the Baggy greens of Steve Waugh, the Aussies of Ricky Pointing are just not what you thought they were? Their legacy at least is in question, not because they did it but those bestowed with the responsibility of carrying on that proud legacy have crossed a line. And that’s putting it mildly for Steve Smith and co who has done the unthinkable.
Cricket is the national sport in Australia and thus it was no surprise this episode has been termed the darkest day in their history. Australia is in mourning, for their national sport’s image has been tarnished. It is not what we all thought it was. After all is said and done, it seems the Aussies will do anything to win. I can’t talk of past teams but at least I can mention Steve Smith’s team for they have been caught in the act. This latest episode though begs the question, is this the first time it has ever happened or is it a “team culture”? It leaves one with soooo many unanswered questions, is this really the first time they have done it. Amidst the ball tampering storm, spare a thought for a certain Cameron Bancroft, how much of a say did he have in all this if any.
The question that I’m frequently asked is, which sport is my favourite? I often respond that I am a jack of all trades but master of none. The follow up to that one would be something to do with my abilities on the field of play to which most often than not I admit to my limitations. The next question is whether I’m just an enthusiastic fan or a couch analyst. As I grew up I always responded to these questions carefully. At first I used to claim I was a good player but in reality, I was never the most athletic or the most gifted. All my school life I was trying to fit in, going above and beyond just to be recognized as a core member of the team. I would often be one of the hardest working players in training for I knew my limitations.
At that point if a senior team member had asked me to do something I would run, even if I knew whatever they were asking of me was illegal or against school policy for I wanted to fit in. Where are you going with this Bryan, you might be asking. Well, Cameron Bancroft is a young man trying to find his feet in international cricket. He had somewhat mixed returns in the Ashes series and only just kept his place for the current ongoing tour of South Africa.
Mind you, cricket is not just another sport in Australia, it is a national sport thus whoever dons the Baggy Green is worshiped around the country. Growing up, it is every young man’s dream to be part of the Aussie side. Now that Bancroft has made it, surely he would stop at nothing to cement his place in the team. If someone of Steve Smith’s stature came through and asked him to do something to “help” the team surely as a rookie in the side you wouldn’t hesitate for you would do anything to feel like you belong.
It is but a pity that amongst all this a young man whose international career is in its infancy finds himself at the center of the storm. No matter what he does from here on, Bancroft’s career will forever be remembered for this infamous incident? Ball tampering is a serious matter and since Mike Atherton was fined $3,700 back in 1994, five men have been sanctioned by the ICC including our very own Proteas Captain, Faf Du Plessis, twice. It is not only a moral issue but is also seen as something against the spirit of the game.
Spare a thought for Cameron Bancroft in all of this. It is easier to sit here and bash him as a cheat but I do wonder if he didn’t perform all this under duress. Was he actually a willing participant or just trying his best to win over his senior teammates? Is the pressure to win that high in Australia or did the players simply cross “the line” because of a lack of integrity on their part. I understand the scrutiny of captaining the Baggy Greens but Steve Smith and co has rather pushed one Bancroft under the bus here. Where does he go from here, the ICC have given out their sanctions and he has been given a lighter sentence but Cricket Australia might come down hard on him and rightly so.
Is this really what the game has come to? I can only but just imagine the pressures of a young man trying to find his way in international sport, never mind being the centre of attention in this day and age. Maybe just maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I was never the most athletic nor the most talented, for there is no place for forgiveness in this world of social media “court rooms”.
Cameron Bancroft is no Saint nor am I saying he is innocent but spare a thought for him. He might just have been caught in the crossfire. When all is said and done, let’s all remember he is but just a young man trying to carve his own path in the world of international sport. As for Smith and Warner, may this be their learning experience and whatever sanctions they get, hope they come back better from it for international cricket needs its best players on the field of play, no questions asked.