Australian cricket has lost its moral compass

In 1990 I was a proud Australian expatriate playing league cricket in Yorkshire in the north of England.

I believed I played the game hard and fair, and within the spirit of the contest, without giving anyone a free hit.

I have played cricket alongside my father Ron, who still trotted out for his local community club and filled in in a couple of games at 80 this summer, with my siblings Robert and Adrian, and in social games with son Isaac.

The blatant cheating by the Australian Test cricket team, which came into national focus on the weekend, led by captain Steve Smith and including the leadership group and undertaken by eight Test game player Cameron Bancroft, has forever put a blight on our national summer passion of “leather and willow”.

The entire Australian cricket fraternity will now have to live with the accusations that our national side are cheats.

This is a damning consequence for all cricketers from a poorly thought out and managed piece of gamesmanship which backfired and will send ramifications through world cricket, which may be felt for decades.

The game has endured some major embarrassments over its journey including the infamous underarm incident when Greg Chappell broke the spirit of the game, although it was still within the rules of the contest at the time, against New Zealand back in 1981.  

There are also captains of other countries – Hansie Cronje in South Africa and Mohammad Azharuddin from India – who were a part of match fixing scandals among various other travesties.  

The first question I have is what motivates the national leadership group of an Australian cricket team to even discuss an issue that was totally illegal?

The second part that is even more amazing is how the Australians thought they would get away with it in the game at the top level that is scrutinised so heavily.

Thirdly, the insipid message given by the CEO of Cricket Australia James Sutherland displayed a disappointing lack of leadership that permeates through the corridors of our great game.

From the outside it looks like there was a knee-jerk reaction – after the Australian people showed their disgust at the cheating  on various platforms on Sunday – by relieving Smith and Warner of their leadership roles and handing the captaincy over to Tim Paine mid-game.

Why should these two players have actually gone back onto the field of battle, for the fourth day of the third test after being stripped of their roles!

If they had shamed the “Baggy Green”, why are they allowed to wear it?

The captain of the Australian cricket team was seen by some as the second most important position in our culture, behind the Prime Minister.

Smith, his vice-captain, player Cameron Bancroft, any others of the team involved, Australian coach Darren Lehmann and, you would surmise, the national teams’ bowling coach David Saker, have now had their cricket careers and reputations tarnished forever.

All the above, and in a way, the rest of the wider cricket players, supporters and patrons, have to live with the consequences.

As Australian cricketers we are all now labelled cheats.

This action has a dramatic impact on Australian cricket in the longer term and this problem is systematic of other issues, which have been woven into the current fabric of the game.

We have made it legend for bowlers with bent arms to play the game, the sledging in the game has become brutal and personal.

It feels like a lover that has been cheated: you still have feelings for the culprit (in this case cricket), but you never quite have the same emotional attachment.