What was the ball tampering incident

Cricket scandal in AustraliaBall manipulation with consequences

"Cricket is the best sport in the world. Cricket has been my life and I hope it will be again. I'm so sorry. I'm devastated."

In tears, Captain Steve Smith apologized at a press conference on Thursday.

It is the sad climax of a scandal that began in Cape Town last weekend and continues to spread. What happened? The Australian national cricket team admitted a manipulation attempt in a friendly against South Africa last Saturday. Instigated by Captain Smith and Vice David Warner, the Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft had sanded the red cricket leather ball and tried to hide it in his pants - but he was caught by television cameras. Ball tampering is strictly forbidden in cricket. Roughening the ball changes the flight characteristics in favor of the thrower.

Harsh penalties for Australian players

The Australian Cricket Association suspended Smith and Warner for 12 months on Wednesday. Warner is said to have instigated the other players and is therefore never allowed to hold a leadership position again. Smith for at least two years. Batsman Cameron Bancroft has been suspended for nine months.

"People know I worked very hard to get to this point in my career and to know that I just gave someone else a chance, just like that, is a devastating feeling."

In addition to being banned from the national team, the players should complete a hundred days of social work to prove to the cricket world and Australia that they are serious about their expressions of repentance. The sporting consequences are severe. Smith's and Warner's clubs in the Indian Premier League and Bancroft's club in England have also excluded players for this year.

Apparently a financial loss in the millions. In addition: The sponsor world reacted immediately. For example, the sporting goods manufacturer ASICS ended its collaboration with Warner and Bancroft. Among other things, Smith lost his deal with the Commonwealth Bank.

Sponsors withdraw

"The incident has done a lot of damage to the sport of cricket as a whole and, of course, Australian cricket. It shattered the confidence and belief of the fans in the sport and it is our responsibility - that of the players, the officials, the coaches, that belief and to restore that confidence, "says James Sutherland, head of the Australian Cricket Federation. Ball manipulation will also be expensive for him: on Thursday, one of the sport's biggest sponsors, the financial services provider Magellan, ended the collaboration. Millions in losses are expected. Above all, however, the credibility is damaged. The national players are stars in Australia. And now the "Gentlemen's Game", which interrupts its games for tea in the afternoon, has fallen into disrepute. Considered one of the best batsmen in cricket history, Smith is questioned as a role model. At the press conference, he ruefully addressed his words to children as well:

"Before you make a questionable decision, think about who you could hurt with it. Your parents, for example. Seeing how much my father and mother suffer ... it hurts."

Lately there have been many cases of bad behavior, criticized the head of the international cricket association ICC, David Richardson. Now a commission of former international professionals should clarify what behavior is expected of the players and develop new measures and sanctions with regard to manipulation.

National coach warns of a witch hunt on players

On Thursday, national coach Darren Lehmann surprisingly announced his resignation. He had previously been acquitted of any active involvement in the manipulation. He wants to vacate his post after the current series of tests against South Africa so that Australia's cricket can develop further.

One message is important to Lehmann: With all the disappointment, there should be no witch hunt on the players. Because:

"There is also a human dimension to history. You made a mistake, each of us has done that before. But these are young men and I hope people will give them a second chance."

Suspensions, losses of millions, change of coach and Australia in turmoil. And all of that triggered by a small piece of sandpaper.