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10 Dec 2018, Edition - 1245, Monday

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Sports

Cricketers’ union calls for Smith and Warner bans to be lifted immediately

The Guardian

The Australian Cricketers’ Association has called for the immediate lifting of the bans currently being served by disgraced cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, who have already been “punished enough” for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal.

Responding to Monday’s public release of a review of organisational culture, which found Cricket Australia to be partially responsible for events that unfolded on the pitch in Cape Town earlier this year, the ACA president, Greg Dyer, said the CA board had “the power and moral obligation” to lift the bans.

“Yes, this moment of madness but now there is evidence and independent verification of system failure as well,” Dyer said. “We believe this is hugely significant.

“With this new information, common sense, common decency, basic fairness, proportionality, which we’ve talked about from the outset, and natural justice demand that the punishment is reduced.”

The report, commissioned by CA after the ball-tampering affair, noted “responsibility for that larger picture lies with CA and not just the players held directly responsible for the appalling incident at Newlands”.

Dyer said this “new evidence” should have an impact on the trio’s bans and, given the sanctions were handed down without knowledge of the wider picture, they should be recalibrated.

“The players have already lost time in the game, chances to play for Australia, endured public humiliation and face massive financial penalties,” Dyer said. “They are contrite. They have been punished enough. Let them play.

“They are remorseful and get the need for change.”

Dyer said the ACA would be “relentless” in its efforts to have the bans lifted while the organisation’s chief executive Alistair Nicholson, when asked about the possibility of taking legal action, said: “We just need to get through the first stage.”

Smith and Warner are currently serving 12-month bans for their roles in the scandal, ruling them out of representing Australia in any format until March next year and playing domestic cricket in Sheffield Shield and Big Bash League this summer.

Bancroft has nearly served his nine-month ban and will be free to return to all forms of the game in late December.

On Monday, the CA chairman, David Peever, said he accepted full responsibility for the ball-tampering scandal but he remained adamant he would not step down from his position, despite mounting pressure to do so.

Former International Cricket Council and CA chief executive, Malcolm Speed, called for Mark Taylor to take over from Peever, as “the game deserves better governance, the game deserves better leadership”.

Peever, who was re-elected only on Friday, and the new chief executive, Kevin Roberts, were also firm on CA’s stance not to reconsider the trio’s lengthy bans.

Smith, Warner and Bancroft have missed three Tests since the sanctions were handed down, but the ACA’s calls raise the possibility of them returning for the four-Test series against India, which begins in Adelaide on 6 December.

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