Qantas Tour of South Africa
Clarke's media 'fear' for Steve Smith
Former skipper repeats call for action from CA, says he feels for current captain as media storm awaits in Australia
26 March 2018, 01:51 PM AEST
Former captain Michael Clarke says he's fearful of the intense media scrutiny that Steve Smith will be under when he returns home following the ball tampering scandal that has rocked Australian cricket.
Contrary to reports, Smith has not left South Africa after he was banned for one match by the International Cricket Council for planning to alter the condition of the ball in the third Test in Cape Town.
But he will no doubt be greeted by a fierce media storm when he eventually returns to Australia, something Clarke - no stranger to the spotlight during his playing days - can empathise with.
"I couldn't think of anything worse than Steve Smith coming back to Australia and being too scared and too embarrassed to be able to leave his house or to have paparazzi and media at the front of his door 24/7," Clarke told Channel Nine on Monday.
"I can tell you now there's no worse feeling when you're driving to a service station or a Woolworths and you're too embarrassed to get out of the car because you feel like everyone's staring at you and everybody is looking at you.
"That's my fear for Smithy at the moment. I feel for him and I don't want to see that happen."
Clarke, Smith's predecessor as Test captain, was himself the subject of a tabloid circus in 2010 after he returned home from a tour of New Zealand when his engagement to then partner Lara Bingle ended.
A strong media contingent camped outside Clarke's Sydney home for several days before he eventually re-joined his teammates across the Tasman.
"That was heavy. That was cameras 24/7," Clarke said in 2016 of the saga.
"That wasn’t my dream, I didn’t know that came with playing cricket for Australia.
"I got to a stage when I came back that I actually couldn’t stay in my own house.
"I didn’t feel comfortable. So I ended up hiding in the boot of my mate’s car, he picked me up in the garage, um and snuck out without the media ... seeing me."
The ball tampering scandal dominated the front and back pages of Australian newspapers on Monday as everyone from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull down had their say, with former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist saying "the integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport".
Speaking on Sunday, Clarke labelled the incident "disgraceful" and "premeditated, blatant cheating" that reflected poorly on the entire Australia dressing room, adding that Cricket Australia needed to take a tough stance on the issue.
On Monday, he repeated his call for strong action from the governing body, saying "this can never, ever happen again in our great game".
But he also called on the Australian public, once the final punishments have been handed down, to forgive those involved.
"I know (it's) really hard for a lot of people and it's going to take a lot of time, and I accept that, but forgiveness," he said.
"I do feel for Steve Smith. One hundred per cent he's made a major mistake and he with a lot of people are going to have to suffer the consequences, and I think that's fair enough.
"But I think it's important that we do, over time, forgive as well."
Smith stood down as Test captain on Sunday before the ICC banned him for conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game.
In the coming days, Smith and his teammates will be interviewed by CA Head of Integrity Iain Roy, the person responsible with leading the investigation into how and why the Australians came to the decision to operate outside the rules of the game to gain an advantage.
David Warner stood down as vice-captain on Sunday but has not been charged by the ICC or CA.
In Smith’s absence, wicketkeeper Tim Paine was named interim captain, and after play he said both Smith and Bancroft were not in great shape after a tumultuous few days in Cape Town.
"It’s been a horrible 24 hours,” Paine told reporters after Australia’s 322-run defeat inside four days.
"They’re struggling, but probably the reality and the enormity of what’s happened is starting to sink in.
"I don’t think we all would have expected this to be as big as it has been and particularly the fallout that we have seen from back home."
The Australians are set to fly to Johannesburg on Tuesday ahead of Friday’s fourth Test at The Wanderers.
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test South Africa won by 322 runs. Scorecard
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage