Australian cricket captain Steve Smith arrives with teammates, at the Cape Town International airport as they depart to Johannesburg for the final five day cricket test match, in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Smith has been suspended by the International Cricket Council for the match for his part in a ball tampering scandal during the third test. Smith admitted some senior pla
Australian cricket captain Steve Smith arrives with teammates, at the Cape Town International airport as they depart to Johannesburg for the final five day cricket test match, in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Smith has been suspended by the International Cricket Council for the match for his part in a ball tampering scandal during the third test. Smith admitted some senior pla

Cricket bad boys deserve forgiveness

FORMER Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark has called for the cricket public to find forgiveness for the Australian cricketers caught up in the ball-tampering controversy.

Captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft have been expelled from Australia's current tour of South Africa for their involvement in the scandal that has hogged the headlines since Sunday.

Clark, one of the mainstay quicks of the Ricky Ponting captaincy era, said the infamous incident will always be with them but forgiveness from the public needs to part of the process.

Clark said he was concerned for their mental wellbeing.

Cameron Bancroft heads to the airport. Picture: Brenton Geach Gallo Images/Getty Images.
Cameron Bancroft heads to the airport. Picture: Brenton Geach Gallo Images/Getty Images.

"They will be remembered for this their whole lives, the punishment is already there. It's very obvious ball tampering is considered cheating, not everyone does it, but changing the condition of the ball has happened numerous time," Clark said.

"I feel sorry for the fact they will have to live with this for the rest of their lives especially given the status they hold in cricket. Smith has been compared to Bradman, there's not many before him that have.

"I worry about the mental health. They have to live with this whether they play for Australia again or not. Yes they have to be punished but there is a human side, they must be monitored.

"Some people will say 'stuff them' that's one opinion but the other side is there has to be compassion somewhere down the track. Hopefully over time they can find forgiveness."

"I know Steve and David well, I don't know Cameron but I feel sorry for all of them."

James Sutherland at a media conference in South Africa to announce initial findings of the probe into the ball tampering controversy.
James Sutherland at a media conference in South Africa to announce initial findings of the probe into the ball tampering controversy.

Clark said he thought Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland should have labelled the incident as "cheating", instead of avoiding the word in a media conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning (AEST).

"What I would like to see happen is an open book transparency in this investigation. I want to know what drove these players to take the game into their hands?" Clark said.

"It was predetermined they would do something illegal, I want to know how you get to that point. Why did they think this was acceptable and how did they think they would get away with it?

"No-one can comprehend how you get to this point."

Clark also said that coach Darren Lehmann, who has avoided any penalty to this point, needed to take responsibility.

Former Australian Test batsman Adam Voges said it was "genuinely possible" coach Darren Lehmann and other players did not know about the ball tampering plans.

The fallout from the ball tampering scandal continues.
The fallout from the ball tampering scandal continues.

"Being in a cricketing change room throughout the last 16 years of my life, the lunchtime break is not generally a time where you sit down purely as a group and discuss a lot of things," Voges said.

"It isn't really until you step back onto the field and the captain has a bit of a say about what the plans are coming up to the next session that everybody is together again at the same time. "So I think it's genuinely possible that the three guys that have already been mentioned are the only guys who did know about it at the time."

Voges, who is currently commentating in South Africa, said he had been in contact with some members of the Australian team who were "struggling" with the saga.

"It's been an incredibly tough day for a lot of them," he said.

"They're still struggling, a lot of the team. You can't go to bed one night and wake up the next morning and it's all gone so they're still living with this at the moment."



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