The Aussie cricket captain, along with one of the newest players, have admitted to cheating - not just cheating on the spur of the moment but a blatant planned cheating where it was discussed and agreed upon by a 'leadership group' before it happened.
That's horrifying, especially given all the other nasty crap that's happened during this tour. It's diabolical. It seems that there's things happening behind the scenes that we're not privy to. And that makes me speculate. It has me trying to read between the lines, read body language, and try to surmise what's happening that we can't see.
I watched Michael Clarke struggling to understand and explain what's occurred. I admire that he sat on the fence and wanted more information before he'd condemn anyone...but that also makes me question so many things. Michael Clarke has had nothing good to say about Cricket Australia since before he left/was forced out. The way he supported the current captain this morning, without directly supporting anyone else, has made me wonder how much more is beneath this incident...and who/what is really behind it.
Smith and Bancroft have owned up to this. Smith has also laid blame on an as yet unnamed 'leadership group'. Are Bancroft and Smith the only blokes with the honesty and guts to own this? Are they falling on their swords, but cleverly toppling a whole empire of gutless cheaters?
When Clarke left, some cloud hung over Cricket Australia, but as fans looking in we aren't privy to what that was. This morning he explained that partway through his captaincy, he lost control of the cricket team by CA putting in new structures which made a mess of the accountability, which previously had been so clear. And after Phillip Hughes' death, Clarke has said he felt he wasn't supported by CA and had been pushed into doing things he felt he shouldn't have had to do. I always thought he meant he was forced to play and captain, and encourage others to play through their fear, grief, emotion.
Is it more than this?
Is CA so focussed on winning that they've set up a system where players feel they need to cheat rather than just playing the best they can? Have players been forced to do things they're not comfortable doing in order to play in the Aussie team? God, have we lost sport and become something led by money/prestige/crowds/sponsorship/whatever?
I'm appalled to think of how deep this horror goes. I'm appalled to be a cricket fan, particularly an Aussie men's cricket fan, today. I don't want sport tainted by cheating. I don't want to be associated with this win at all costs mentality. I don't want our nation associated with appalling behaviour - which has been the case of this whole tour.
This isn't an isolated incident now. In light of this, I look back to Cummins standing on the ball the other day and his smug reaction when asked about it, saying of course it was an accident. Was it? I'm doubting that now. And last test, Warner had a huge amount of taping on his hand, which wasn't completely unexplained or illegal, but when South Africa protested about it the Aussies claimed all innocence - were they? Wasn't that tape there to do exactly what the SA's were worried about?
It's not like the Aussies were doing so poorly that they were at the bottom of the entire world of cricket. No. This is a team that others should have admired...and they've lost not only admiration for themselves, but for every Aussie cricketer and cricket team in the past and possibly the future. They've besmirched the name of Australian sport. They've lost fans. And I would hate to have to explain this to a cricket-mad kid when I can't make sense of it myself.
I don't know how this will unfold. James Sutherland, CA boss, had a media conference where he sounded as if he was trying not to cry, and said nothing except that there was a process and it would be followed. That process is that CA send 2 people to investigate - how can that be fair if this problem is systemic? He said he hadn't spoken to the Captain - and that worries me deeply. Why not? The Captain surely needs his support, and needs to explain himself, and I would have thought should have been his first or second call. That's not looking good for the relationship between CA and the players. Add in the bad blood after the payments negotiation and nothing looks good there.
Has Smith been backed into a corner and is toppling a tower to weed out more serious cheating?
I could be a conspiracy theorist but I think there is so much more behind this than we may ever know. I just pray that none of these young men are in positions that cause irreparable damage to their mental health and/or life.
I wait to see what happens, but my heart is broken and I don't think I can watch men's cricket with any passion.
What are your thoughts?