'There have been captains in the past who have been done for tampering with the ball and the penalties have been very lenient so there was no penalty for doing something wrong and it was always going to get to the case where it got out of control'
Former cricketer Steve Waugh believes lack of strict action against those who altered the cricket ball in the past led to the massive ball-tampering scandal during Australia’s third Test of the four-match series against South Africa at New Lands in March.
The 53-year-old further stated that boundaries were pushed in the matter, leading to the escalation of the issue.
“There have been captains in the past who have been done for tampering with the ball and the penalties have been very lenient so there was no penalty for doing something wrong and it was always going to get to the case where it got out of control”, ESPNcricinfo.com quoted Waugh, as saying.
“You know they push the boundaries a bit by throwing the ball into the rough on the ground, which they shouldn't do and then it's escalated from there. It's a shame how it got to the point that it did but I guess the authorities let that happen," he added.
Terming the incident as a ‘ridiculous mistake’ committed by the players, Waugh, however, said that the matter was blown out of proportion.
"It was on the front pages for weeks and we saw the emotional press conferences and it was a story that kept going and getting bigger. When you look back on it, it was a ridiculous mistake but it was sort of blown out of all proportion as well, the way it got covered, but that's the nature of Australian sport. Cricket is seen as almost our national identity. If we are winning and playing well we almost feel good as a nation and when that happened it was like a bit of a kick in the guts for everyone,” he added.
Reflecting on the future of former skipper, Steve Smith, and former opener, David Warner, who were handed over a one-year ban each following the scandal, Waugh said that the two cricketers have the ability to make a comeback adding that the bigger challenge would be to overcome people talking about it.
“I know that [Smith] will be passionate, he's still only young, he loves cricket and he's got that drive to get back there. His biggest challenge will be to overcome people talking about it because the rest of his life someone will probably mention it once a day,” he said.
"You know [Warner] is a tremendous cricketer. A lot of passion, still very young. It's really up to those guys. They've got to have the passion, they've got to have the desire but I think it's a great chance of redemption. The Australian public will forgive and move on and they have an opportunity to really be role models to kids going forward,” he concluded.