Today’s sanctions, imposed on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft by Cricket Australia, are not about a botched roughing of a cricket ball. That was dealt with by the ICC the other day.
Today’s sanctions were about conspiracy. About the dishonest confession of that conspiracy.
And for Australia’s two most senior and highly-paid cricketers, about their irresponsibility as role models, the reputational damage they have done to their sport, the financial loss they may potentially have triggered through diminished media rights and lost sponsorship opportunities.
The punishment needed to fit the offence. For the actual attempted ball tampering – a Level Two Offence – the ICC dealt with Cameron Bancroft appropriately. For everything else, in Cricket Australia’s hands, a stiff punishment was needed. But not excessive.
Smith and Warner have been hit hard. Suspension for the next twelve months, especially from this year’s IPL, is the equivalent of a two to three million dollar fine for each when match fees, endorsement earnings and other activities are taken into consideration. Yet it’s still a long time for them to be away from the game. Yes, they’ll still be playing club cricket if they want to, but not for Australia or New South Wales or Sydney Sixers or any other top level.
Punishment is important, but the players’ redemption is more important in my mind than the public’s lust for retribution. I would have preferred to see them back on the field sooner than later, perhaps with their earnings from cricket for a time donated entirely to charity.