Australian ball-tampering scandal goes political

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed in on Steve Smith and the Australian ball-tampering scandal and he hasn’t held back.

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Picture credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Some would say that Australia’s current Prime Minister would do well to focus more on his newspoll numbers than weigh in on sporting scandals, but Malcolm Turnbull has wasted little time in joining the growing chorus demanding Steve Smith be removed as captain of the Australian cricket team.

In what he described as a “shocking disappointment,” Turnbull has expressed a desire to see swift and decisive action from Cricket Australia in removing Smith from the post he has held since 2015.

“We all work up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” Turnbull said. “It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating.

“I’ve spoken with David Peever, the Chairman of Cricket Australia, a few moments ago and I’ve expressed to him very clearly and unequivocally my disappointment and my concern about the events in South Africa.

“It’s their responsibility to deal with it, but I have to say that (to) the whole nation who holds those who wear the Baggy Green up on a pedestal, about as high as you can get in Australia this is a shocking disappointment. It’s wrong, and I look forward to Cricket Australia taking decisive action soon.”

The PM and the ASC weigh in

Turnbull’s demands come in the wake of calls from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) for severe action against the team.

In a statement released today, the chairman of the ASC, John Wylie and CEO Kate Palmer were unequivocal in their opinion. 

“The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport. The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country.

“Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball. This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.”

Cricket Australia to investigate

Earlier Cricket Australia supremo James Sutherland faced the media and confirmed CA board members were en route to South Africa but that the current Test would conclude before action was taken on Smith’s future.

Sutherland alluded to further sanctions while confirming a full investigation would be conducted into the events that unfurled on day three of the third Test between bitter on-field rivals Australia and South Africa.

During his press conference, Sutherland looked visibly emotional and angry at having to front the media and discuss charges of cheating and bringing the game into disrepute laid on Australian Test cricketers.

Cricket Australia Executive General Manager of Team Performance Pat Howard and Senior Legal Counsel and Head of Integrity Iain Roy have left Australia bound for South Africa and will lead the probe into details surrounding the Australian leadership group making deliberate and calculated plans to cheat.

Smith and the Australians will be on the field in Cape Town over the next couple of hours trying to put the immediate issue behind them and overcome a stiff on-field contest though some leading media figures have suggested they should declare their fourth innings closed before a ball is bowled and end this farce of a third Test.

Should Smith remain as Australian captain in the wake of his admissions? Let us know in the comments below.

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