The Cheating Three

​There has been a lot of discussion about the severity of the punishments handed out to Steven Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner, The Cheating Three (hereafter called TCT).

There has also been some fantastic coverage, notably by Geoff Lemon and Adam Collins. Yates raises his glass to Geoff and Adam for their work and hopes they’re enjoying a decent rest.

Let’s bring some clear headedness and context to the punishments handed out. No judgements about the conduct, no smugness, just keeping it real.

The ICC handed out a punishment in line with the current guidelines for players’ behaviour. You may like it or you may not.

Cricket Australia handed out punishments in line with their Code of Conduct for players’ behaviour. You may like it or you may not.

CA knew that TCT’s actions would cause severe reputational and financial damage to the team and how people perceive it and that’s exactly what happened. Sponsors dropped TCT and, more importantly, CA, with public statements about “behaviour not being in line with our values”. For an organisation such a line is as brutal a rejection as they can get.

When a non-sports related company sponsors a team, particularly a national team and high profile players, it is associating itself and its reputation with that team. Essentially it is paying hugely for premium advertising space. Think about that. Advertising space.

What does advertising do? It sells you a dream about something. In the advertising world a domestic device can become a life saver, a life changer, a loved family member. Wearing after shave or deodorant advertised by a celebrity promotes the idea of confidence, of being something like the celebrity. Financial services providers are shown as ultra-professional, being in place to predict and navigate through disasters.

It’s all about promoting an ideal world, one which for most of us doesn’t exist. Buying products associated with “celebrities” (and Yates knows more about distant regions of the Gobi desert than most of the so-called “celebrities” doing the rounds) is supposed to make us feel better in our drab, insignificant lives.

When something happens which damages this ideal world image there’s a reaction.

So the punishment that CA have handed out to TCT reflects how much that they feel that faeces has been smeared over the brand and reputation of cricket generally and Australian cricket in particular, to the great cost of and embarrassment to CA. It’s not rocket science.

Had Yates lost a few million dollars in sponsorships you can bet he’d be crying into his tea.

Public tears do not change or mitigate what happened. Smith and Bancroft’s acceptance of and decision not to appeal their punishment is to be respected and acknowledged as the right thing to do. It may also stop others trying to appeal for a lesser sanction on their behalf.

There is certainly a discussion to be had about player conduct and adherence to the Spirit Of Cricket, not just in relation to Australian players. Talk of “headbutting the line” has come back to haunt the Aussie team; the events in South Africa may be the start of the seachange in attitudes and conduct that cricket around the world needs.

Cricket Australia has set the standard. Will the rest of the cricketing world boards follow? Will the ICC follow and demonstrate its own commitment to playing fair by governing transparently and in the best interests of the world game?

Yates will offer one opinion here:

Compare the bans TCT copped against the ban the ECB imposed on Shiv Thakor.

And no, Yates won’t make a ball tampering joke, tempting though it is.