It will be difficult for Australia’s besmirched cricketers to reclaim their reputations when the dust settles on the ball-tampering scandal but the episode is nonetheless a chance for the team to reclaim some of its lost principles and values, feels former batsman Michael Hussey.
“I feel like we’ve lost sight of some of these principles in recent years…there are some very good people representing Australia at the moment – but the ball tampering issue isn’t the first time the team as a collective has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons,” Hussey wrote for ‘playersvoice.com.au’.
Australian captain Steve Smith, opener Cameron Bancroft and batsman David Warner have been sent home in disgrace after admitting to tampering with the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Bancroft was caught on camera using a sand paper to rough up the ball and Smith later admitted that it was a pre-meditated move thought through by the team’s leadership group.
Surprisingly, the side’s coach Darren Lehmann has been cleared of any involvement following a preliminary inquiry by Cricket Australia.
“The next few days, weeks and months will be difficult for Australian cricket. Jobs might be lost and heavy sanctions handed down,” said Hussey, who represented Australia in 79 Tests, 185 ODIs and 38 T20 Internationals, accumulating 22,783 runs across formats.
“…this period will also present the team with a chance to reset. Our values. Our team culture. Our true north…We played hard, certainly, but also positively and fairly.”
Hussey, who is currently the batting coach of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, said a player is always remembered more for how he played the game than the runs or wickets he gathered.
“What’s the first thing that springs to your mind when someone mentions Rahul Dravid? I’d be surprised if you said, ‘He scored 28 hundreds,’ (or however many it was) but in no way surprised if you answered, ‘He was The Wall. He had an incredible technique and temperament. He played the game with great integrity’,” he explained.
“…as I’ve got older, and the more people I have spoken to since retirement, I have come to realise, ‘Shivers, no one really gives a stuff about my runs now!’,” he added.
Hussey said he is worried for the reputations of the three players at the heart of the controversy.
“Organisations – both within cricket and in the wider business community – remember these things after you’ve finished playing. When they’re assessing whether to sign you, they’re taking into account your character, your reputation and whether you enhance their brand,” he said.
“Those things take years and years to build and moments to lose. And once they’re gone, they can be difficult to reclaim,” he added.
However, Hussey said he is hopeful that Australian cricket will recover from the shock.
“This is going to take time…Only actions will convince them (the fans) to give this team another chance,” he said.
“I believe we’ll get there, and the road to doing so starts with understanding the responsibility of that baggy green cap,” he added.