Katich calls for trio to serve full bans
Former Test batsman weighs in after players' union announces plans to formally request bans to be removed by Cricket Australia
30 October 2018, 08:20 PM AEST
Ex-Test batter Simon Katich has voiced his opposition to a push by the players’ union to have the bans imposed on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft immediately overturned.
Katich, who served as a player liaison manager and consultant to the Australian Cricketers’ Association during last year’s MOU negotiations when he was a strident critic of Cricket Australia, said any move to reduce the trio’s penalties would send the wrong message after they “blatantly cheated”.
The ACA announced today that it will make a formal submission to CA calling for an immediate removal of the 12-month suspensions imposed on Smith and Warner and the nine-month ban on Bancroft as a result of information contained in the culture review released yesterday.
However, Katich claimed he did not support the move - which would require the CA Board to overturn the sanctions put in place under the organisation’s Code of Conduct – even though he respected the ACA’s view and believed the welfare of the banned trio remained sacrosanct.
“I think the players should see out their bans,” he told Melbourne radio station SEN, for whom he will work as a commentator during the coming Australia summer.
“They admitted what they did was wrong, and they blatantly cheated.
“I just don’t think shortening the bans is going to do anyone any good.
“I think the public will be disappointed to think they could get away with what they did just because of what this (Ethics Centre culture) review has found.
“They have to be responsible for their actions, regardless of what is going on in the background with the administrators and the culture that's been created.
“The players still have to put their hand up – which they have – and cop the bans on the chin and do their time.
“They'll earn a lot more respect that way than if the ban gets shortened … because, realistically, if the bans get shortened it's like the review said – it’s a win-at-all costs mentality.
“From a welfare point of view, it would be important they can come back and play the game they love and they have done it tough.
“But what they did, as grown men … they knew they couldn't take sandpaper out there (on the field) otherwise why were they trying to hide it down their pants?”
A number of past players including former coach Darren Lehmann, ex-Test vice-captain Adam Gilchrist and former selection chair Rod Marsh have recently spoken in support of having the banned trio resume playing before their respective suspensions expire next year.
Another ex-batter George Bailey, who was part of the players’ review that ran concurrently with the Ethics Centre examination, said today he felt that Australian cricket could benefit from the suspended players’ ongoing involvement at some level.
Bailey, who will captain the Prime Minister’s XI in a one-day fixture against touring South Africa in Canberra tomorrow, stopped short of advocating the trio’s return to domestic playing ranks but believed their experience and skill could be utilised in related areas.
“There must be a better way to handle it,” Bailey told reporters in Canberra.
“With some of the trends we’re seeing in Australian cricket at the moment, I can’t help but think those three guys could be having a really positive impact on domestic cricket.
“At the moment they’re playing overseas in different (T20 franchise) competitions and they could be having such a great influence on our game and our young batters.
“They’re doing everything that’s been asked of them in terms of the community (service programs) and the ban.
“There’s no doubt they’ve copped it on the chin and paid the penalty, and a really stiff penalty it was, but I just think there’s a way they could have a really positive influence, particularly on the domestic game, and I’d love to see that happening.”
ACA President Greg Dyer said today the union would be “relentless” in its bid to have the suspensions – which were imposed by CA for conduct deemed contrary to the game’s spirit, not for directly tampering with the ball – overturned to allow them to return to top-level competition.
He added that the move was driven by a resolution from the ACA Board which met hours after the review’s release yesterday, and did not come at the behest of the three players who had been advised of the union’s action.
Dyer and ACA Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson indicated that material contained within the 145-page Ethics Centre report overseen by Dr Simon Longstaff had shown that events in Cape Town were, in part, the product of CA’s corporate culture.
“… below the surface, there is a web of influences – including of good intentions gone awry – that made ball-tampering more likely than not,” the Ethics Centre review found.
“Responsibility for that larger picture lies with CA and not just the players held directly responsible for the appalling incident at Newlands.”
The ACA claimed findings outlined in the review provided mitigating circumstances for the players’ actions in South Africa and, as a consequence, the severity of the penalties should be reduced to afford them “natural justice”.
“We’re not saying what they did was right, and they are contrite about that,” Dyer said today.
“What we’re saying is that their sentences, with this new evidence, now needs to be re-calibrated and reviewed.
“It’s within the powers of the CA Board to re-look at this, they’re charged currently under the CA Code of Conduct.
“They’ve served their ICC bans (for the ball-tampering misdemeanours) … so it’s within the role of the CA Board to re-open this.”
However, CA’s newly installed Chief Executive Kevin Roberts reiterated the views of Chairman David Peever when he noted the three players had been the subject of a thorough investigation in the days immediately after the incident, the result of which was then considered by CA’s Board.
The trio then opted not to exercise their rights to an appeal after the penalties were announced, and therefore no formal process existed for the suspensions to undergo further amendment.
“There’s no provision to review the sanctions,” Roberts told SEN radio’s ‘Whateley’ program today.
“There was an appeal mechanism that was available to the players before the sanctions were finalised, and I really empathise with each of the three players and have chatted to them in recent weeks.
“They’re experiencing a challenging time … yes, they made a mistake and a serious mistake that had major ramifications, but that’s not easy, to say the least.
“For that to be up in lights, in front of the Australian public, and I’m getting as many people saying to me that the sanctions are too harsh as are saying the sanctions aren’t harsh enough.
“A deep investigation was conducted, the CA Board went through a really rigorous decision-making process that wasn’t rushed and was managed very well, I’ve got to say.
“And they made a judgement call that was very difficult, and I accept that there will be those who agree with it and those who don’t.”
The independent Ethics Centre review, which was voluntarily commissioned by CA to examine all elements of Australia cricket culture that might have contributed to events in Cape Town, was informed by the results of a survey completed by more than 450 people, and through individual interviews.
The ACA provided a formal submission to the review, which produced 42 recommendations of which CA has indicated all-but-one will be either considered, are included in existing practices and protocols or are already being implemented.
While the review sharply criticised CA’s corporate culture as being “arrogant” and “controlling”, it cited the sanctions imposed upon the three players after the Cape Town incident as positive evidence of the organisation’s commitment to its values.
It also noted that the outcome of the often-heated MOU debate last year “may have reinforced a sense of entitlement amongst players”, although Dyer claimed it was not within the union’s charter to become involved in issues of on-field behaviour.
“As an individual – aside from my responsibilities here at the ACA – I witnessed those behaviours over a period of time and it was very clear that on-field aggression was moving down a path that I personally wasn’t comfortable with,” Dyer said.
“Could I have done more about that as an individual? Past players talking to players, it’s not our role.
“As an organisation, on-field behaviour is outside the ACA’s area of concern and I don’t think the ACA has any responsibility in that area.
“But as an individual, and in discussions with other past players, that movement down a pathway towards more and more aggressive behaviour was palpable and obvious, and could have been called earlier.”