Cricket Expert & Columnist
Australia ball tampering leads to Ashes questions, says Nasser Hussain
"The problem with ball tampering is, once you get done like this and found out, it's a little bit like match-fixing in that you start to question every other game"
Last Updated: 28/03/18 10:03am
Nasser Hussain says Australia's involvement in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa will make people "start to question the Ashes" and their 4-0 series success over England this winter.
On Saturday, Cameron Bancroft was caught using a foreign object on the ball and then hiding it down his trousers on day three of the third Test in Cape Town.
Australian captain Steve Smith later admitted Bancroft had been instructed to tamper with the ball by the team's "senior leadership" group. Smith was handed a one-Test ban by the ICC and fined 100 per cent of his match fee, with Bancroft given a 75 per cent fine.
"The problem with ball tampering is, once you get done like this and found out, it's a little bit like match-fixing in that you start to question every other game. People start to question the Ashes," said Hussain. "It's why the ICC should clamp down harder on it.
"This is a very good Australian bowling line-up, and has been for a while. But people will start questioning whether they're a good cricketing side because they scratch the ball better than opposition sides. Or are they just better?
"Stuart Broad made a very valid point from out in New Zealand. They say they've done this for the first time, but Australia were reverse-swinging the ball with success in the Ashes, and reversing it in the first two Tests of this series, so why would you change the plan and suddenly scratching and taking objects out onto the cricket field?
"If it ain't broken, don't fix it. So, Broad, and some of the England guys out in New Zealand are kind of saying keep an eye on what happened in the Ashes, we think this has been going on a little bit longer."
Hussain also criticised Australia's reaction to the whole affair, including Smith trying to "underplay" the incident in his initial press conference and the subsequent silence from the head coach and other key members of the team.
"The silence has been deafening," added Hussain. "Not just from the coach, Darren Lehmann, but the bowling coach David Saker and the vice-captain David Warner. He seems to have a lot to say on the cricket field, but in the last 48 hours he has been silent.
"I thought Smith underplayed it when he went into that press conference straight after it happened. 'We will learn from this and we will move on', he said. Well, I'm afraid it's not that simple, you're the captain of Australia, a very proud cricketing nation, and to say you blatantly cheated, it's very difficult for you to stay in your job as captain.
"It doesn't look good on Lehmann either. If he did know, then he is in a whole heap of trouble and unlikely will be able to hold his job down. If he didn't know, then why are senior players not telling the coach what is going on?
"I wasn't in that dressing room but, in the dressing rooms I played in, it is inconceivable that the coach wouldn't know something like this has been dreamt up.
"I expect Cricket Australia and James Sutherland to do their due diligence and find out exactly what happened on that fateful afternoon. Who was in involved in the decision making process? Who was in that leadership group?
"The reaction in Australia has been quite scathing of the team, so I expect them to be very strong in any decision they make. They also need to create a culture change in the team.
"More importantly for me, it's not about the actual ball tampering, it's the arrogance and lecturing from this particular Australian side over the last couple of years.
"There are some double standards with this Australian cricket team. They are very unpopular, and not just because they're winning. Australians don't even like them at the moment because of the way they go about playing their cricket."
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