Former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that a harsher punishment should have been imposed on Australia skipper Steve Smith for his involvement in a ball tampering scandal.
Smith and Australia opener Cameron Bancroft admitted that they had attempted to alter the condition of the ball on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Smith was subsequently banned for one Test and fined 100 percent of his match fee, while Bancroft was docked 75 percent of his match fee and handed three demerit points.
However, Ganguly reiterated that the International Cricket Council (ICC) should have implemented more severe sanctions against Smith.
“I think the ban of just one match and 100 percent match fee [fine] is a bit soft,” he told India Today. “Ball-tampering is not match-fixing or criminal offence but what is going to remain with Steve Smith, Darren Lehmann, David Warner and even that substitute who was in the dug-out is those walkie-talkie footages, is those instructions sent to a young cricketer to keep that sand paper in his hand to scratch the ball.
“Why didn’t Steve Smith keep it? Why didn’t David Warner keep it? Why did you ask the young cricketer to do that on a cricket ball? So these will remain and this is what Steve Smith will have to overcome.
“It’s not a crime as I said. Match-fixing is a bigger crime than what has happened. It’s the perception of people what will remain that oh God! these boys are not trustworthy. That will haunt them for the rest of their careers.”
Smith insisted that head coach Darren Lehmann had not been involved in the incident, but a video has been spread around on social media, which appears to show Lehmann sending a message to Bancroft via substitute fielder Peter Handscomb through the use of a walkie-talkie.
As a result, Ganguly admitted that it is likely Lehmann will keep hold of his position.
“Ball-tampering has happened before. Bowlers and fielders have found different ways to get the ball roughened up on one side,” he said. “But the orchestra which was behind it and the way it has happened, the way it was hidden immediately when the camera was on, will leave a very bad taste for everyone who’s seen it. With so much of television, I really found the Australian team management very, very stupid.
“From my point of view, Steve Smith, David Warner and Darren Lehmann will have to face the brunt for a long, long time. I don’t see Steve Smith continuing as captain for Australia. I don’t see David Warner taking the post of captain and I don’t see Darren Lehmann continuing as coach.
“Australian cricket, with Prime Minister involved, will take a very strong action. What will stand out for years to come is that footage of the walkie-takie where Darren Lehmann speaks to substitute fielder at the dug-out.
“The message going to the fielder and then hiding…will leave a bad taste for many. Life is about perception, life is about trust and I think that will take a serious beating.”