The end of March will be a significant date for Australian cricket as the bans of David Warner and Steve Smith officially come to an end. The pair have been out of the game for almost a year now after being found guilty of ball tampering during the second test against South Africa in Cape Town during 2018.
Now that the end of their suspensions is in sight and the two disgraced players get ever closer to being able to pull on the Baggy Green again, does it mean Australia’s win-at-all-costs mentality will return?
BREAKING: Cricket Australia ban Steven Smith and David Warner for 12 months, while Cameron Bancroft gets 9 months for his part in the ball-tampering incident. pic.twitter.com/T2U1uzqnvv
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 28, 2018
That’s actually the most diplomatic way of summarising their previous competitive mentality because if you had to quote the findings of an independent report made after the controversy at Newlands, you would find the old attitude made the players “play the mongrel”. The wording of these findings is certainly damning, but sadly it’s not necessarily untrue.
The environment within the team when Darren Lehmann’s players were found guilty of ball tampering was toxic. Australia’s total disregard for the rules and their opponents had the team running amok on the field. Who can forget the Test before the ball-tampering controversy, as reported by https://www.news18.com, when Nathan Lyon threw a ball at AB de Villiers as the Proteas batsman lay face down in the dust after being run out?
Any decorum or sportsmanship had long since departed the Australian dressing room, and Lehmann was undoubtedly spurring his players on to play this way. As covered by https://www.abc.net.au, this was a man who called on the Australian public to make Stuart Broad cry in revenge for being a “blatant cheat”. Needless to say, those comments haven’t aged well.
Australian cricket went through a much-needed mass clear out from top to bottom after the events in Cape Town in a bid to stamp out a culture that had brought such shame to a proud cricketing nation.
The goal for Australia now has to be getting back to the old-school approach that made them the formidable side they once were, especially with the World Cup less than 100 days away. The Baggy Green are at 11/2 to make it back-to-back World Cups, but don’t currently look anywhere near being legitimate challengers.
The reintroduction of Warner and Smith could drastically change that, and fans will feel more confident with their inclusion if they’re allowed back into the national team. If they are, then punters who think Australia have what it takes to go all the way in England can visit https://www.aussiefreebet.com.au for the latest free online bets in Australia. Right now, Aaron Finch is the man tasked with leading Australia in the UK, but does he have the steely grit needed to lead world champions? The same could be asked of the Test captain.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) November 20, 2018
Tim Paine was chosen as the new face of Australian Test cricket because ultimately, he comes across as a stand-up guy, and if you overheard any of his chats on the stump mic during the series against India, you would know he seems like a straight shooter.
The selectors have read the mood of the room correctly by making him the figurehead of the team, but his demeanour could be deemed as possibly too sporting and a breakaway from what made Australia the greatest cricketing nation post-millennium.
That robust approach made Australia the team everyone loved to hate, but also an unstoppable force in world cricket. The sooner they can find their true identity again the better.