Former Australian captain Steve Smith at Blues training on Monday. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Former Australian captain Steve Smith at Blues training on Monday. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Warne: Australia was ‘too quick to hang’ Smith

DEBATE over cricket's ball-tampering penalties has flared again with Shane Warne branding them harsh as Steve Smith reminded Australia of what they were missing.

Perhaps stung by a duck in Sydney grade cricket on the weekend, Smith showed what a driven professional he is by batting for more than two hours in the SCG nets on Tuesday.

Smith and David Warner were banned for a year and Cameron Bancroft nine months after the ball tampering fiasco in South Africa last summer.

Warne remains convinced the penalties did not fit the crime.

"He (Smith) made a silly mistake and an error in judgment,'' Warne said on the ABC's 7.30 on Tuesday.

Former Australian captain Steve Smith at Blues training on Monday. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Former Australian captain Steve Smith at Blues training on Monday. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"I think we're, in this country sometimes, too quick to hang people.''

Australia's landslide loss in the second Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi has drawn fresh focus on the penalties and the huge consequences for a Test side who have just one certain selection (Aaron Finch) inked in for the top six batsman for the first Test against India in Adelaide from December 6.

As Smith worked on his craft on Monday, Cricket Australia announced it would release the cultural review of Australian Cricket culture.

The report, prepared by the Sydney Ethics Centre's Simon Longstaff, was commissioned in the wake of March's ball tampering scandal in which Smith, Warner and Bancroft were banned and coach Darren Lehmann resigned.

 

The chief executives and chairs of all cricket's state associations fly to Melbourne on Wednesday for two days of meetings. It is understood the states have to ratify the reappointment of Cricket Australia chairman David Peever, who has asked to stay for another three years despite a string of destabilising events, including the contract dispute and the ball tampering.

He is only the second chair in the modern era to ask for another term, a move which was criticised by director Bob Every who quit in protest when it was put to the board earlier this year. The West Australian business chief accused the chairman of poor leadership in a letter to fellow directors which was leaked to The Australian.

The chief executives were surprised to learn there is no indication they will be given access to report into Australian cricket culture before Thursday's AGM, despite it being delivered to the board last month.

Cricket Australia refused to say what would be done with the report ahead of the AGM, but did say there was an agreement with its author, Longstaff, that it could not be changed. The board received a draft copy of the review seven weeks ago.

The review will be made available next Monday at the same time the McCosker review into team culture.

Affairs of the board are conducted in strict secrecy, but director Mark Taylor indicated on the weekend that the Longstaff review is critical of the organisation.

"There's been some heat and there'll be more," Taylor said on Channel Nine. "We've got some reviews coming out very shortly. I'm not allowed to say when. They will come out and there will be more heat no doubt."

 

Steve Smith hit the nets with his old Blues teammates. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Steve Smith hit the nets with his old Blues teammates. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

Former chief selector Rod Marsh launched a scathing attack on his former employer in a book to be released this weekend, saying the win-at-all-costs culture at Cricket Australia led to the sandpaper incident.

Taylor objected to Marsh's characterisation of the win at all costs ethos in the organisation.

The Australian Cricketers Association has prepared a detailed report for Longstaff and refuses to reveal its contents ahead of the findings, but The Australian understands it has asked why nobody in administration has been held to account for what happened.

ACA president Greg Dyer believes the year long bans for Smith and Warner - nine months for Bancroft - are too long and there is a call for them to be reduced.

Nobody in administration has been held to account for a series of destabilising events in recent years, including the fall out with players over attempts to change contract arrangements and the events in South Africa.

Peever, the chairman admitted some responsibility for the cultural failings earlier in the year.

"Clearly, this has happened on my watch and on our watch and clearly, we accept responsibility," he said at the time.

 

Steve Smith will line up in the Pakistan Super League. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Steve Smith will line up in the Pakistan Super League. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

Senior executive and high performance chief Pat Howard recently denied he was responsible for the win at all costs culture, saying he had been asked about it by the review and had told them it was only 25% of his KPIs.

Marsh, a former Test wicketkeeper, claimed there was an obsession in high performance meetings with being the number one ranked side in the world and it was raised at every high performance meeting.

The Australian revealed details of another contentious element in the review on Monday when it detailed the $41m in bonuses written into player contracts by Cricket Australia despite objections from the players.

The players are understood to have focused on what they claim is $6m in performance bonuses for executives in the organisation and there are suggestions the prizes for suits and cricketers be aligned more with the spirit of the game than its outcomes.

The banned player trio are condemned to play club cricket until their bans end. Warner and Smith both turned out for their respective district sides on the weekend, the former captain was out for a duck, the former vice captain didn't do much better.

Smith and Warner have both been at state training in recent weeks but are not allowed to play any state, BBL or international cricket for Australia until the end of March.

Smith has agreed to play in the Pakistan Super League which begins after the Big Bash, but both were courted by the United Arab Emirates Twenty20 League which will run in the same months as the BBL and was offering over $300,000.

The UAE tournament, which is offering twice what the BBL pays, only runs for 24 days whereas the Australian competition has now been stretched out to seven weeks.

The new league is expected to attract big name international players who otherwise might have played in the BBL.

Both Smith and Warner played in a Canadian competition in the middle of the year and technically can fill their time chasing the game around the world as they are both off contract.