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Ball tampering scandal casts a shadow on CWG

Last updated on: April 04, 2018 00:53 IST

'Have you been following the ball-tampering scandal? Please don't write too much about it, we are ashamed'

IMAGE: A general view of the court at the Townsville Entertainment Centre ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photograph: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

It's a sport not even on the Games roster anymore but Australian cricket's ball-tampering scandal is a massive talking point at the Commonwealth Games with even tough-talking immigration officers concerned about the country's image.


"Have you been following the ball-tampering scandal? Please don't write too much about it, we are ashamed," an immigration officer said to this correspondent when he got to know that he was interacting with a journalist at the Gold Coast airport.

The fall from grace of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft -- all of whom were handed bans for plotting and trying to tamper the ball with a sandpaper against South Africa -- has left Australia's sports-loving fans a bit miffed, very disappointed but most of all heartbroken.

"Smith was quite liked by everyone here and it was very heartbreaking to watch him cry like he did. Warner to my mind is a bit of a bully so he got what he deserved. I feel for Bancroft though," said the immigration officer.

The controversy found its logical conclusion in bans but what has continued to simmer for Australian sports fans is a conflict between what happened and whether the hounding of the players was entirely fair.

Smith being heckled while leaving South Africa was described as shameful by Shane Warne, no less.

"We like to play aggressive but fair, this (ball-tampering) was crossing the line. Hopefully the Games will turn out good and we can move forward from this," said a volunteer working at the Games Village.

The media seems to have moved on after all the players involved offered tearful apologies. In fact, the public breakdowns helped lower the general anger levels.

The lost look on Smith's face, a visibly shaken Bancroft being comforted by his mother and a sobbing Warner facing up to the questions all by himself are images that will not be forgotten too soon here.

"Those apologies did soften things up. They seemed genuine and probably there will be second chances in this case," said a local TV journalist, covering the Games.

The punishments handed out to the trio -- one year bans for Smith and Warner and nine-month suspension for Bancroft -- evoked mixed reactions.

Most of the sympathy seemed reserved for Smith, the man who was being compared to none other than Don Bradman.

However, most of the fans seem convinced that the trio will come out of it and probably regain the respect they have lost.

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