Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday (April 4) opened up about the ball-tampering controversy that rocked the entire cricketing fraternity during the recently held Test match between Australia and South Africa in Cape Town.
Ganguly stated that he has sympathy for former Australia skipper Steve Smith, who was handed a 12-month suspension by Cricket Australia (CA) for his involvement in this disgraceful scandal.
“I sympathise with Steve Smith, he is a fantastic player and hopefully he will come back and keep scoring runs for Australia. Because I don’t think it’s cheating, actually I don’t believe it is cheating,” Ganguly quoted as saying by PTI after launching a book titled ‘A Century is Not Enough’.
Besides Smith, CA had also imposed severe punishments on former Australia vice-captain David Warner and rookie opener Cameron Bancroft. While Warner was banned for one-year after he was found to be the chief instigator in the entire saga, Bancroft was barred from international cricket for a period of 9-month.
“I just wish them (Smith, Warner and Bancroft) luck and hopefully they come back and play well. It’s not right to call it cheating, and I wish them luck, and come back and (play) well,” he further added.
It is pertinent to mention here that cameras had caught Bancroft using a foreign object to work on the ball during the Cape Town Test against South Africa last month. Video aired by the official broadcaster had shown Bancroft using a small, yellow object hidden in his palm, as he rubbed the ball with his palm and then onto his trousers. He was then seen transferring something from that palm into his right pocket. The object was later verified as “sandpaper” during Cricket Australia’s investigation.
In a shocking press conference after the day's play at Newlands, Smith and Bancroft confessed to their mistakes in orchestrating a plan to gain an unfair advantage over South Africa. Subsequently, Smith was handed a one-match suspension and fined 100% of his match fee by the International Cricket Council (ICC), while rookie Bancroft was penalized 75 percent of his match fee and awarded three demerit points for breaching Level 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct.
While Smith and Bancroft have whole-heartedly accepted the sanctions imposed on them, it is still unknown whether Warner will challenge the ban or accept it like the other two.