Ball-tampering scandal: Should Steve Smith be banned for life?
Steven Smith has been at the centre of the ball-tampering scandal. His misconduct has already cost him the captaincy of both the national team and Rajasthan Royals. He has also been slapped with a one-match ban by the ICC. However, Smith could face more serious repercussions. Even life ban is not off the table. But do Smith's actions warrant a life ban? Let's discuss.
What does the rule book say?
According to Cricket Australia's 'Code-of-Behaviour', Smith and Warner can be given life bans, if the maximum penalty is applied. While deciding the punishment "the harm caused by the breach to the interests of cricket" would be the primary factor, which would be taken into account.
A matter of national shame
The ball tampering carried out by Cameron Bancroft and orchestrated by team's 'leadership group', has received backlash from all quarters of cricket fraternity. Even the Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull expressed his 'shock and disappointment' at the incident, while CA Chief James Sutherland issued an apology to the Australian cricket fans. The leadership group consists of Steven Smith, his deputy Warner and unnamed senior players.
Does it demand a life ban?
Cricket fans have come down heavily, calling the one-match ban for Smith mild and asking the authorities to ban him for life for cheating. The incident is not only about 'ball tampering' but the way it was planned. It raises important questions like 'have they cheated before?' or 'did the coach know?' Rules aside, the incident is against the spirit of the game.
Jeff Thomson calls for life ban
Australian fast-bowling legend Jeff Thomson has called for life ban for Steve Smith and others involved in ball tampering. He termed it a "slur on everybody who's ever played cricket.' He called it a symptom of deep cultural faults, a part of Australian cricket's DNA.
Punishment within rules
While a one-match ban might seem mild, with all the outrage pouring in against Smith & Co, one must remember that the offence is of 'ball tampering'. This attracts mild punishment as per rules and it is a level two offence. Sanctions include player's match fee deduction (50-100%), and three or four demerit points. Four merit points mean a one-Test ban.
Life ban too extreme
While the actions should be condemned, calling for life ban is extreme and disproportionately severe. It isn't the first such case and won't be the last. There have been worse offenders, who got away with a single match ban. In the recent past, Faf du Plessis was found guilty of tampering and he got away with match fee deduction and three demerit points.