'Cheating is cheating': Cricket great hammers Steve Smith move

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Steve Smith has been elevated to Test vice-captain after having served his two-year ban from holding leadership positions in Australian cricket. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
Steve Smith has been elevated to Test vice-captain after having served his two-year ban from holding leadership positions in Australian cricket. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

The decision to hand former Test skipper Steve Smith the title of vice-captain after Tim Paine stepped down from all forms of cricket has been blasted by cricketing great Ian Chappell.

Having served his two-year ban from holding leadership positions in the wake of the Australian men's team's 2018 cheating scandal in South Africa, Smith was promoted to vice-captain under new skipper Pat Cummins late last week.

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Smith acknowledged his return to a leadership role was likely to ruffle some feathers in the cricket world and he was soon proved correct, as Chappell denounced his promotion to vice-captain.

Chappell said he remained confused as to why David Warner was handed a lifetime ban from leadership roles for his actions perpetrating the 'sandpaper scandal', but Smith was permitted to return to leadership.

He said 'cheating is cheating' 2GB’s Wide World of Sports program, adding that while he was strongly supportive of Cummins earning the captaincy he wished Cricket Australia had been able to move on to an entirely new slate when it come to team leadership.

“For starters, I have a problem — why is Steve Smith looked upon as a different punishment to David Warner? In fact, if anything, I think Steve Smith’s crime was greater," Chappell said.

“For a captain to say, ‘I don’t want to know’ when cheating is involved, is not correct. A captain’s got to know, he’s got to find out and he’s got to do something about it.

“Either Steve Smith has a two-year ban from captaincy and so does David Warner, or Steve Smith has a life ban and so does Dave Warner. Same thing.

“Cheating is cheating, whether it's big cheating or little cheating, it’s still cheating in my book."

Chappell was most critical of Smith's instinct to separate himself from the actions of Warner.

Though Smith was found not to have encouraged the actions of Warner and then batsman Cameron Bancroft in South Africa, he also did nothing to bring the transgression to the team's attention.

It was this move, Chappell argued, that disqualified Smith from any further leadership positions.

Steve Smith promoted to Australia vice-captain after Tim Paine departure

Speaking alongside Cummins after the the pair were announced as the Test team's new leaders, Smith said the past few years had shaped him into a more 'well-rounded' person.

He added that he believed he was better placed to help guide Cummins through his debut as Test captain, while acknowledging it was a move some might take issue with.

“I’ve been in a position the last few years playing as a leader and now the opportunity obviously to be standing here next to Patrick as a formal leader, a titled leader, I’m truly honoured,” he said.

“There will be some negativity from some people around it, I understand that and I get that, but for me, I know that I’ve grown a great deal over the last three or four years.

“I’m a more rounded individual, and in turn, it’s turned me into a better leader and I’m excited to be in this position next to Patrick.”

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith have been announced as Australia's new Test captain and vice-captain.
Pat Cummins and Steve Smith spoke to reporters on a video conference after they were announced as Australia's new Test captain and vice-captain respectively. Picture: Cricket Australia

In Smith, Australia's selectors can at least be confident the leadership won't burden his batting.

His initial ascension to the vice-captaincy in 2014 coincided with his rise to the world's best batsman, while his average of 70.36 as captain is bettered only by Don Bradman in the game's history.

Friday's decision also leaves Smith just one minor injury away from that top role again.

Cricket Australia confirmed in their appointment that Smith would be the man to take over if Cummins missed a match, rather than the role leapfrogging him to the likes of Marnus Labuschagne.

"From my point of view fingers crossed Patrick is available for every game," Smith said.

"If the case is that he isn't, I'll step in and do the best job that I can for the team in his absence and ensure we're still trying to push the team forward and keep growing as a team.

"Hopefully we can have some success along the way with that."

With AAP

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