Australian legend Shane Warne on Wednesday released a statement on the ball-tampering scandal. Steve Smith and David Warner were earlier on Wednesday banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia following the ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test against South Africa. Cameron Bancroft was also handed a nine-month ban. Smith and Warner have also stepped down from their IPL captaincy roles. Taking to Facebook, Warne also appeared to have downplayed the punishment meted out the Australian players.
Warne also appeared to have downplayed the punishment meted out the Australian players. "For that reason, I don't think at the moment talk of the punishment is fitting the crime ie a 12-month ban. They have been charged with breaching the spirit of the game, something that is so important to us Australians, and something which was important to every team I played in. At times we made mistakes, and we pushed things too far," he said.
"Let's look at his (Steve Smith's) recent history though, as a captain, and a person. He's been fantastic for the Australian team. But he has made a very silly mistake. I am still trying to wrestle with what I think the punishment should be. They have to be harsh, but if they are rubbed out for a year, the punishment does not fit the crime," Warne added.
He hinted that the punishment meted out to the guilty Australian players is somewhat harsh. "Let's take the emotion out of it. We are all feeling angry and embarrassed. But you need a level head and you shouldn't destroy someone unless they deserve to be destroyed," he said.
"Their actions were indefendable, and they need to be severely punished. But I don't think a one year ban is the answer. My punishment would have been to miss the fourth Tests match, a huge fine, and be sacked as captain and vice-captain. But they should still be allowed to play after that," he said.
Warne also expressed his embarrassment at the turn of events. "Like every other Australian and cricket lover around the world was shocked and angered by what we saw in Cape Town. To hear that the Australian cricket team had been involved in pre-meditated cheating is something that is embarrassing. There is no way you can condone it. We are all so hurt and angry and maybe we weren't so sure how to react. We'd just never seen it before," he said.
"But the jump to hysteria is something that has elevated the offence beyond what they actually did, and maybe we're at a point where the punishment just might not fit the crime. The hysteria has gone worldwide, and everyone that dislikes the way the Australian cricket team has played, and over the past five or so years there have been rumblings about the way this team has gone about things, have been given the opportunity to lay the boots in," he added.
Warne also said that there are levels of ball tampering. "But what are the players guilty of? Cheating via Ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute. Their opposing captain in this series, South Africa's Faf du Plessis, has been charged with the offence twice, and opening bowler Vernon Philander once. The list of players who have been charged with ball tampering is long and contains some of the biggest names in the game, like Sachin Tendulkar and Mike Atherton," he said.
The former spinner said the Australian team want to win every game but not to win at all costs. "It's Australian to play it hard, and tough. But not win at all costs. And never cheat. Cheating is un-Australian."