David Warner (left) and Steve Smith are only allowed to play grade cricket under the terms of their 12 month bans. Picture: AFP
David Warner (left) and Steve Smith are only allowed to play grade cricket under the terms of their 12 month bans. Picture: AFP

Stance on bans highlights CA’s arrogance

THE growing push for a compromise on the strict 12-month bans handed down to Steve Smith and David Warner will double as an acid test for whether or not Cricket Australia has swallowed its medicine.

That's not to say CA should automatically bend over and agree, but will they even give the topic the fair hearing it deserves?

One of the most damning criticisms of Cricket Australia's broken culture stemming from the independent review was a passage which detailed how they refuse to listen to outside opinions and often ostracise those who dare express an alternate view.

Perhaps the greatest irony of David Peever's performance on Monday was that when confronted with accusations of "arrogance", the chairman refused to directly answer questions and instead determined that the review was never meant to be about "dwelling on the negatives."

Peever's unequivocal claim that the 12-month bans from all levels of Australian cricket (except club cricket) handed down to Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft "will stand" suggests that the players' union's submission to the CA board to reconsider the sanctions has a snowflake's hope in hell of being successful as long as he remains at the helm.

So how then, can Cricket Australia commit to turning over a new leaf, as they must, and actually listen to an entirely reasonable argument?

The arrogance and stubbornness of CA has been laid bare in the past few weeks with the reappointment of Peever and promotion of Kevin Roberts as chief executive before the cultural review was determined.

Despite only weeks ago saying goodbye after 17 years in the top job, James Sutherland escaped on Tuesday with barely a mention on a day when it was decreed he had overseen a poisonous culture.

Should bans for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft be lifted or softened?

It's complicated.

But no matter how Cricket Australia ultimately rule, this submission will test whether the so-called arrogant bully-boys are at least prepared to admit even the slight possibility that they might have made a mistake.

Rushing Smith and Warner back for the international summer might be far too extreme in one direction.

But surely subjecting them to the humiliation of being sitting ducks for abuse from opponents and up-close fans in park cricket is too extreme the other way.

What actual purpose is that serving Smith and Warner, and cricket as a whole?

For many domestic cricket, Sheffield Shield and Big Bash is an obvious compromise.

Still it's not that simple.

Cricket Australia are right to note that not one of the Longstaff Review's 42 submissions makes even a vague suggestion that the bans ought to be re-examined.

In fact, one passage even provides the feedback that they are "exemplary".

But the point is this. Cricket Australia's board handed the Cape Town trio unprecedented punishment for the specific reason that they were deemed to be solely responsible for bringing the game into disrepute.

The independent review has now provided irrefutable evidence to suggest that premise is wrong, and the disgrace is shared across the game.

If Cricket Australia aren't prepared to open their doors now for a robust debate, will they ever?

 

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