Sandpaper Gate: Has the right decision been taken to uphold the integrity of the game?
The cricketing world was rocked by one of the biggest scandals in recent years when the Australian cricket team were caught cheating by tampering with the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town last week.
After the third day's play, Steven Smith later admitted at a press conference that there was a deliberate and intentional discussion held and plot hatched to tamper with the ball in order to gain an unfair advantage.
Since then, the cricketing world has been in a frenzy, with Australian cricket going through one of its biggest scandals ever.
On Wednesday 28 March 2018, news broke that Cricket Australia had banned Steven Smith and David Warner from participating in all forms of cricket, both domestic and international for twelve months, whilst youngster Cameron Bancroft copped himself a nine-month ban.
Smith and Warner will also not be allowed to take part in this year's IPL season, with both batsmen having stepped down from their roles as captain of their respective franchises.
Mixed reactions broke out on social media, with some people feeling that the bans were not harsh enough and that the duo of Smith and Warner should be banned for life, whilst others felt that perhaps the ban was too harsh.
Veteran Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar feels that the punishment was a fitting one. Tendulkar made the following statement on his Twitter page:
Whilst there will always be mixed reactions to the bans handed out to the guilty trio, Tendulkar's tweet emphasized the importance of cricket being a gentleman's game and that the way in which a team wins carries more important than just simply winning. This is in contrast to the "win at all costs" mentality which the Australian cricket team seem to have adopted under coach Darren Lehmann.
Going forward, this is something which the Australian cricket team will always have hanging over their heads, unless a serious change is made in the way they play the game and what their team culture is. Damage to one's reputation is difficult to bounce back from, and the trio's actions have stained Cricket Australia's image, as well as the image of Australian cricket as a whole.
For the moment, it seems that this was an isolated incident, but one can expect that over the next few weeks, footage between Australia and other competitors will be reviewed for any signs of ball tampering or any other forms of cheating by the team.
If it is proven that they are guilty, one would expect pressure to mount on the ICC to issue stricter punishments, and perhaps life bans.
Australia take on South Africa at the Wanderers in the fourth Test, where a rampant South African side will be looking to win the series in dominant fashion.