In what has been one of the most talked about dramas in cricket for some time and probably will be for some years. Perhaps one of the most surprising and certainly for some people encouraging things to come out of the whole circus of the Australian ball tampering scandal was the utter fury and outrage to come from the Australian public and cricket in general. It’s a time when test cricket is predicted to die a potentially slow death over the coming years with the increasing upsurge in 20/20 cricket, the money and audience it attracts and the feeling that the five day format has not much relevance in the fast paced and time constrained modern world, the reaction to the Bancroft incident could oddly be a wake up call to Test cricket, its rich history, its uniqueness in the length the game is played and the need to try and protect it at its most vulnerable.
For too long there has been a complacency and slight arrogance from teams and players around the world in terms of behaviours on and off the pitch and upholding the way the game is played. Australia have been the worst offenders, but that is not to say England and India have not had cringe worthy episodes of harassing umpires, giving players send offs and all sorts of embarrassing posturing on the pitch.
In a perverse way, it all might have needed to come to head in a series and this has certainly been the series that has provided it! Before a ball was bowled in the series, there was the usual pre-series nonsense – started by Australia that – with the current best bowler in the world Rabada close to a possible suspension, it could be advantageous to provoke and “get at” him to bring a response that would see him suspended. This was followed by a full match of nonstop abuse to South African wicket keeper Quinton De Kock who retorted by making what was reported as unseemly comments about David Warners wife that nearly came to blows in a tea interval. The drama was continued with Australia getting their pre-series wish and a ban for Rabada with him being judged to have barged into Steve Smith after taking his wicket before dramatically having the ban overturned and the ill feeling reaching fever pitch for the third test and the now infamous ball tampering incident with Australia behind the game and in their own words “desperate” to claw things back.
The dust is starting to settle after the storm and Warner and Smith (two of the best batsman) in the world are banned for a year from the game and Bancroft loses 9 months of his career to a ban. It’s an incredibly strong statement of intent by Cricket Australia on their lack of tolerance and drawing a line under what has been slowing getting out of control and as the South African batsman Hashim Amla has stated “a reality check for every team in the world”.
If you look away from the controversy (which has been nearly impossible). The cricket has been amazing. A fine topsy turvey contest between two fine sides that has swung one way and then the other and has had action, drama and no clear winner going into the last test of four. In summary everything that makes Test cricket the spectacle that people love and have been so furious about in wake of the scandals. Test cricket has a lot to do make it relevant and worthy of people’s time and interest. Its far from just the behaviour side of it, the list is a long one from having Test cricket have context (in the form of league table and structure) to determine who is the best side and how its judged, encouraging and promoting emerging nations to play, making the game more accessible (weather that be day/night cricket or whatever).
What would help is Test playing teams and players promoting and endorsing the product as opposed to trashing it and each other. Potentially an optimistic hope, but maybe the aftermath of this series maybe the starting point for that to happen.
Click the link below it would be a pleasure to have you on board and taking your share of the profits.