Australian legend Shane Warne has shared his opinion on the ball tampering saga that went down during the four-match Test series in South Africa and feels that the now matter how embarrassed the Australian cricket fraternity is, the 'punishment might not fit the crime'.
The Test great has condemned the trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for engaging themselves in 'premeditating cheating' but also believes that the hysteria surrounding the scandal has resulted in excessive penalties which has been handed down by Cricket Australia.
Smith and Warner have been banned by CA for 12-months where as Bancroft has received a nine-month ban by CA. As reports suggest, Warner will never be instilled with the captaincy role in the future after being the 'mastermind' behind the plan to tamper with the ball during the 3rd Test at Newlands, Cape Town.
Warne, who has been marred by controversies in his career which involves an illegal bookmaker and a banned diuretic, has suggested a more appropriate punishment would have been 'to miss the fourth Test match, a huge fine and be sacked as the captain and vice-captain'.
The Australian great took to social media to share his opinion on the matter.
"Like every other Australian and cricket lover around the world was shocked and angered by what we saw in Cape Town. To hear that the Australian cricket team had been involved in pre-mediated cheating is something that is embarrassing. There is no way you can condone it".
"We are all so hurt and angry and maybe we weren’t so sure how to react. We’d just never seen it before."
"But the jump to hysteria is something that has elevated the offence beyond what they actually did, and maybe we’re at a point where the punishment just might not fit the crime. The hysteria has gone world wide, and everyone that dislikes the way the Australian cricket team has played, and over the past five or so years there have been rumblings about the way this team has gone about things, have been given the opportunity to lay the boots in."
"There are thoose countries that don’t like Australia, don’t like individuals in the team, and there has been a build up of hate which has exploded and created this tornado of hysteria. But what are the players guilty of ? Cheating via Ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute."
"Their opposing captain in this series, South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, has been charged with the offence twice, and opening bowler Vernon Philander once. The list of players who have been charged with ball tampering is long and contains some of the biggest names in the game, like Sachin Tendulkar and Mike Atherton."
"Then there’s the idea of pre-meditated cheating. But are there levels of ball tampering, or is it just ball tampering ? is putting a mint in your pocket so you can shine a ball on the field pre-meditated cheating, or just ball tampering. What about putting sunscreen on the ball? You either ball tamper or you don’t."
"For that reason, I don’t think at the moment talk of the punishment is fitting the crime ie a 12 month ban. They have been charged with breaching the spirit of the game, something that is so important to us Australians, and something which was important to every team I played in. At times we made mistakes, and we pushed things too far."
Ball-tampering row | Cricket Australia bans Smith, Warner for one year; Bancroft gets nine-month ban
"But the win at all costs attitude in modern sport can make people do stupid things. I think Steve Smith was guilty of making a severe error of judgement. He was naïve and you can’t condone what he did. He’d be devastated."
"Let’s look at his recent history though, as a captain, and a person. He’s been fantastic for the Australian team. But he has made a very silly mistake. I am still trying to wrestle with what I think the punishment should be. They have to be harsh, but if they are rubbed out for a year, the punishment does not fit the crime."
"Let’s take the emotion out of it. We are all feeling angry and embarrassed. But you need a level head and you shouldn’t destroy someone unless they deserve to be destroyed. Their actions were indefendable, and they need to be severely punished. But I don’t think a one year ban is the answer."
"My punishment would have been to miss the fourth Tests match, a huge fine, and be sacked as captain and vice-captain."
But they should still be allowed to play after that. Darren Lehmann has been cleared of knowing what went on too, which has surprised plenty, but that’s all part of the hysteria.
"We are all struggling to believe what he said, that it was just the three players who knew what was happening, that the coach had to know. We all saw him on the walkie-talkie. But you have to take James at his word.
"I feel for everyone involved, for Steve Smith and Dave Warner and Cameron Bancroft, and I know what they are going through."
Smith and Warner have stepped down as captains from their respective IPL franchises and have also been banned from playing in the 11th edition of the league.