Cricket greats have slammed Australian captain Steve Smith and senior players for hatching a plan to tamper with the ball during the third Test against South Africa.
Batsman Cameron Bancroft, tasked with carrying out the tampering by using yellow sticky tape to pick up “granules” beside the pitch and rub it on the ball to rough it up, has admitted his guilt and been charged by match officials.
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke tweeted his shock at the news.
“What the … Have I just woken up to. Please tell me this is a bad dream,” he tweeted.
Former Australian cricketers Shane Warne and Mitchell Johnson also said they were disappointed by the revelation.
Former Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said he was “stunned, saddened and embarrassed” by the incident and the Australian team was the “laughing stock of world sport”.
“We’re very quick to damn any nations that cheat in any way or go beyond the rules,” he said.
“This clearly is against the laws of the game and we’ve just had our national captain and our national team admit that they sat down and premeditated a way to cheat.”
Former Test spinner Brad Hogg said he was awaiting the fallout.
“Teammate of mine, known him since he was 13. Disappointing. Out of character. Eagerly awaiting the fallout from this,” he tweeted.
South African cricketer Dale Steyn posted to Twitter a picture of Bancroft shoving what appears to be yellow tape down his pants, with the caption: “Can we talk about this?”.
Former English cricketer Kevin Pietersen also weighed in on the scandal.
“My two cents worth — This will be Darren Lehmann’s greatest test as a coach, cos (sic) I will struggle to believe that this was all Bancroft’s idea,” he tweeted.
Steyn said in response: “You know nothing in professional sport is done without the consent of your captain and coach … tough times ahead.”
Another former English cricketer, Michael Vaughan, said heads should roll over the incident.
“The more you think about what has happened in Cape Town the more I realise the leadership needs to be replaced … positions are untenable and I say that with the utmost respect for that group,” he tweeted.
He was also appalled Bancroft had been given the job and said it was “disgraceful” behaviour by senior pros.
“Steve Smith, his team and all the management will have to accept that whatever happens in their careers, they will all be known for trying to cheat the game,” he said.
Retired Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra said the world would be waiting for Cricket Australia to react appropriately under the ethics of the game.
‘This is a shocking disappointment’, Turnbull says
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the nation was “shocked and bitterly disappointed” by the incident.
“It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating, after all, our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play,” Mr Turnbull said.
“How can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief.”
Mr Turnbull said Australians hold cricketers who wear the baggy green “about as high as you can get in Australia — certainly higher than any politician”, before calling for administrators to pursue the matter.
“This is a shocking disappointment and it’s wrong and I’ll look forward to Cricket Australia taking decisive action soon,” he said.
ABC cricket commentator Catherine McGregor said that after confessing to cheating, Smith’s position is now untenable.
“One is culpably stupid but, secondly, it’s just an appalling and deliberate systematic attempt to undermine the rules and laws of the game.
“I think the captain’s position’s untenable. There’s no euphemism left for this, this is cheating.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said Smith’s position as captain was untenable.
Cricket writer Gideon Haigh described the ball tampering as a “reckless and sneaky act” carried out in a “furtive and Machiavellian fashion”.
“The footage is absolutely desperate, that’s what makes it particularly egregious, is that it is done so clumsily and so obviously,” Mr Haigh said.
Haigh said the footage would become a symbol for “how far Australian was prepared to go in order to seek an advantage”.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Australian public as united in their disapproval of an Australian team as I have today,” he said.
The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) called on Cricket Australia to stand aside Smith as captain immediately.
The ASC said in a statement that it condemns any form of cheating in sport, and Australian teams and athletes must demonstrate “unimpeachable integrity”.