Cameron Bancroft of the Australian cricket team was caught on camera tampering with the game ball during the test match in South Africa yesterday.
Bancroft and captain Steve Smith fronted up to a media conference, admitted in detail how they had planned to and then executed their plan to cheat, then spoke of “moving on” and it not “happening again”.
The Australian sporting public, and indeed the International Cricket community, are livid.
What is it in us that has reacted so strongly, to something that at the end of the day, is just a game?
The entire basis of sporting competition is to put your best foot forward, and those who perform at the highest level are rewarded by being deemed winners. Talent isn’t fair. Life dishes it out differently to all of us. But within the confines of a game that has clearly defined rules and boundaries, everyone is given a shot to do the best that they can with the talent they have been given.
Not so when rules are broken, on purpose, with the intent to make the contest unfair.
The ball is not to be tampered with. The bowlers are to try to do the best that they can in the way that they bowl the ball, not in changing the ball itself.
We have a national team captain in Smith openly admitting (when caught) to blatant cheating.
Smith sitting there in a media conference, explaining to us exactly how it happened, and then expecting that to be the end of the matter.
We cheated, we know we shouldn’t have, sorry about that. All ok now, right?
Anyone who watched Dean and Tracey on Married At First Sight last week can answer that question: no, it’s not all ok now. Saying sorry quickly afterwards doesn’t change the fact that you cheated. Something has shifted. As in relationships, so too in sport.
It doesn’t matter if you think other teams are doing it too. They too are in the wrong. Others doing something wrong has never been a good defence for why you decided to do the same.
The essence of sport falls down when people cheat. The integrity of sport is what makes sport worthwhile, and what gives audiences enjoyment.
A national sporting team holds up the values of the country. We do not want to be known as a country of cheaters, and yet that is what is reflected today.
My husband is a cricket lover and said tonight “I would rather we lose the Ashes many times over playing fairly than win a game because we cheated”.
Cheating makes sport empty and soulless. Don’t do that to us. And Steve Smith, let me borrow sentiment from Tracey on behalf of Australia: you don’t deserve us.