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Former Australia pace bowler Stuart Clark believes that while captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were completely in the wrong for ball tampering, they deserve to be forgiven.
The trio will be sent home from South Africa on Wednesday, meaning they will miss the fourth Test against the Proteas in Johannesburg, which starts on Friday.
As a result of this, Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns were called up as their replacements.
Clark pointed out that he feels sympathetic towards Smith, Warner and Bancroft as the ball tampering incident will haunt them for the rest of their careers. In addition to this, the 42-year-old is concerned about how it will affect them mentally.
“They will be remembered for this their whole lives, the punishment is already there,” Clark was quoted as saying by foxsports.com.au. “It’s very obvious ball tampering is considered cheating, not everyone does it, but changing the condition of the ball has happened numerous time.
“I feel sorry for the fact they will have to live with this for the rest of their lives especially given the status they hold in cricket — Smith has been compared to Bradman, there’s not many before him that have.
“I worry about the mental health. The have to live with this whether they play for Australia again or not. Yes they have to be punished but there is a human side, they must be monitored.
“Some people will say ‘stuff them’ that’s one opinion but the other side is there has to be compassion somewhere down the track. Hopefully over time they can find forgiveness. I know Steve and David well, I don’t know Cameron but I feel sorry for all of them.”
Meanwhile, Clark also noted that Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland should have branded the incident as “cheating” when he addressed the media on Tuesday.
“What I would like to see happen is an open book transparency in this investigation. I want to know what drove these players to take the game into their hands?” he said. “It was predetermined they would do something illegal, I want to know how you get to that point. Why did they think this was acceptable and how did they think they would get away with it? No-one can comprehend how you get to this point.”