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Hold your Horses: Steve Smith ain't no criminal

Smith admitted his guilt but the manner in which Cricket Australia's elaborate release on the charges levelled against him tried to portray him as the first among the equals of a rare breed of criminals.

PTI Reported by: PTI New Delhi Published on: March 28, 2018 19:42 IST
Steve Smith is not a criminal
Image Source : AP

Steve Smith escorted by police officers to a departure area at OR Tambo International airport in Johannesburg

Steve Smith may or may not have heard of Fyodor Dostoyevsky or his acclaimed novel 'Crime and Punishment'. If he had, he could probably relate to his current situation with these apt lines: It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently. Smith allowed a rank junior to tamper with the cricket ball - an act that has been carried out on a sly by some illustrious names during earlier times but a risky proposition with over 100 cameras capturing every angle.

He then admitted to having 'Brain Fade 2.0' and all hell broke loose as if the most ghastly act has been carried out by a hard-core criminal.

Shamed by country's cricket establishment, vilified by the media and a cricket enthusiast Prime Minister joining the chorus, life would never be the same for the 28-year-old now former Australian captain.

People have come back from harsher punishment and graver acts of transgression but very few times have one seen such public outrage at something that everyone knew was happening but no one spoke decisively as there wasn't any proof.

Smith admitted his guilt but the manner in which Cricket Australia's elaborate release on the charges levelled against him tried to portray him as the first among the equals of a rare breed of criminals.

The BCCI, not the cleanest of organisations, put itself on a pulpit and banned them from IPL for a year, after backlash from sections of media. Strangely the same BCCI, then and now, hardly cared about the public perceptions when it came to the conduct of their office-bearers.

For Cricket Australia, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, who had passed on information to the bookies way back in 1994, are still legends (every right to be with their on-field achievements) and their "error in judgement" confined only to google search.

If acts of ball tampering are being equated with criminality, then Pakistan could have never fielded a proper team through the '80s and '90s.

Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and before them -- the 'father of reverse swing bowlers' Sarfaraz Nawaz wouldn't have had their statistical profiles on Cricinfo.

Smith knew there was no escape and he admitted to have been a party to the decision. He could have let the youngster hang dry and pleaded not guilty which he didn't.

Yet, his case is being compared to Mohammed Aamir, who took money to lose a game. 

Smith wanted to win at all costs, if not caught he would have been considered the tough cookie that the Australians so like. There is massive public outrage in Australia as their sportspersons have been role models - especially the Australian captains. But what is desperately needed is some perspective.

"I do feel for Steve Smith. 100 percent he has made a major mistake and he and a lot of other people I think are going to have to suffer the consequences. That's fair enough. But I think it's important that we do over time forgive as well," former captain Michael Clarke stated.

'Image is Everything' as Andre Agassi wrote in his much-revered autobiography 'Open'. And the admission of guilt is the end of the road.

They want Smith to do 100 hours of community service for his transgression and at least play club cricket remain in touch. But what about that batsman, who despite uncouth technique had the surreal confidence to take on the best bowlers in the business.

A Mark Waugh's on drive is remembered with fondness, a Ricky Ponting's pull-shot is one for the retro CD and possibly it is difficult to remember many of Smith's shots.

But how many players outside the Indian sub-continent has played spin bowling better than Smith? The 109 in Pune on a batsman's graveyard will always be remembered, more for his temperament. It is expected that Smith will appeal against the ban and whatever the outcome, he will be back on the cricket field.

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