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Australia pace bowler Josh Hazlewood believes that the win at all costs mentality the national team adopted led to the ball tampering scandal that stunned the cricketing world.
The scandal led to Australia losing two key players in Steve Smith and David Warner for 12 months, while up and coming opener Cameron Bancroft was suspended for nine months. In addition, Smith won’t be allowed to captain Australia for two years, while Warner won’t be considered for leadership roles in the future.
It is understood that Warner played a leading role in the scandal, which occurred on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town, as he told Bancroft to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper.
With Australia’s image and reputation having been tarnished, Hazlewood feels that newly-appointed head coach Justin Langer will do everything in his power to try and change people’s perception of the team.
“It’s a big tour always South Africa, coming off the back of an Ashes as well which was quite stressful,” Hazlewood told News Corp as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “All big tours are stressful and that added pressure we probably put on ourselves as much as anyone to win.
“Where the stress has come from is that we are pretty much measured on our cricket ability, not as people off the field, which we had probably got away from in the past six months, 12 months. A focus only on results I guess drives people to do different things and we are only measured on our cricket success.
“I don’t think that’s how it is now, I think that’s changed a little bit, JL has talked a lot about how we are behaving off the field and we are going to be measured on that as well which is a good sign.”
Hazlewood also revealed that the players were shocked by the reaction from the public back in Australia.
“We went to bed that night and Australia hadn’t woken up yet, when it hit back in Australia and we woke up it was quite surprising how big a reaction it was,” he said. “It wasn’t massive in South Africa, all the Australian writers know it’s going on here and there and around different teams and people have been done in the past, I guess they talked it down a bit if anything but once it hit home the media went the other way and the reaction was massive.”
The 27-year-old also seemed to agree with Langer, who earlier told Sky Sports that Smith “maybe just wasn’t strong enough in his leadership”.
“Cricket-wise I think he was ready, he probably wasn’t ready with everything that came with it I guess,” Hazlewood said. “It’s a different time now where we’re basically cricketers from the time we leave school and we don’t really experience life outside of cricket and the cricket environment, back in those times they probably got out in the world, had a few jobs, learned a lot of life lessons. Now you go straight from school into a cricket environment and cricket is all you know.”