Bengaluru: Being a cricketer who weathered ‘Cronje Saga’, Jonty Rhodes knows what it takes to stand in the storm.
And, as the cricketing world was thrown into doldrums last Saturday after ball tampering episode unfolded in Cape Town that centered around Australian captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, Rhodes felt the call for life ban on them was a bit too harsh.
The sentiment in Australia was that offenders should be banned for life as Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull called the saga “beggars belief!”. Although there are no doubts about the severity of the crime, not everyone agrees that these players deserved a life ban.
Former South African cricketer Rhodes felt life ban would be very harsh punishment, having closely seen the aftermath of the match-fixing saga which earned Hansie Cronje a life ban.
Overnight, the Australian Cricket turned upside down after Smith accepted that they tried to tamper the ball on Day 3 of the third Test match against Australia.
Since then, Smith, his deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the man who was caught attempting to tamper the ball, have all been sent back home and banned for 12 months.
The former Mumbai Indians fielding coach put things in perspective as he talked exclusively with Sakal Times about the saga that has engulfed the cricketing world.
“To put things in perspective, I lived through Hansie Cronje saga. I saw a man who was banned for life from cricket. The ICC with regards to match-fixing has very severe punishment and regulations. So ball tampering is a minor infringement--in the perspective of fixing a match. The punishment they have implemented is according to the ICC regulations and code of conduct,” said the 48-year-old.
Rhodes also expressed that he has closely seen what Cronje endured and stated that he still spent a great deal of time with the former South African captain, who three years after he was banned, died in a tragic plane crash.
The post of captain of Australian Test team is called a position more important than that of Prime Minister at times. But with his actions, Smith has certainly enraged the sentiments of the Australian public who feel the need for Cricket Australia to come down severely on offenders, but Rhodes feels that punishment should fit the crime.
One of the greatest fielders the game has witnessed, Rhodes also drew the line between bending the rules and breaking the rules.
“As a fielding coach, I am asking my players to bounce the ball in from the boundary. You try to scuff the ball within the laws of the game, what they did was beyond the laws of the game.”
“People are still trying or attempting to alter the state of the ball by bouncing the ball into the ground, which you don’t always get it right. In that case you are taking the risk of scuffing the side of the ball which you are trying to keep smooth,” he added, as he clearly drew the line separating bending the rules and breaking the rules, further stating that if one breaks the rules, then he should be ready for the consequences as well.
Ever since the Australian skipper stated that it was the first time his team has attempted something like this, a few eyebrows have been raised about how true that is, with Australia’s Ashes triumph coming under the scanner. Rhodes feels that one can never know how much truth is being said in this matter.
“You wonder, Steve Smith says “We have never done this before”, you have to believe him because no one has caught him before. How do we know?”
“If they had suddenly managed to get the reverse swing and had South Africa lost 5 wickets for 30 in space of six overs because of reverse swing, they wouldn’t have said that yes, we scratched the ball. They got caught they owned up. If he says they have never done it before, I don’t know,” he further said.
Following the 12-month ban from Cricket Australia, BCCI also banned Smith and Warner from taking part in this year’s IPL. Rhodes expressed that he has no say in the matter, but he would not turn off his television if Smith and Warner are playing in IPL, as he further added that at the end of the day the duo are still world class players.