Sport Cricket John Buchanan: How Australia can and should move on from the Cape Town saga

John Buchanan: How Australia can and should move on from the Cape Town saga

Bancroft Smith
Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith speak to umpires in Cape Town. Photo: Getty
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Darren Lehmann’s resignation is the latest news story to emerge from ‘Sandpapergate’, but it won’t be the last. In the days and weeks to come, there will be more revelations as the followinge events unfold

  • David Warner finally faces the media, rather than using social media as his voice
  • The Test series concludes and the team arrives home from South Africa
  • Cricket Australia [CA]  announces the review process
  • The hunt begins for the next coach

All these factors will continue to draw attention back to the ball-tampering in Cape Town

But I sit here also knowing it is Easter and a very special time in the Christian calendar. It is a time to reflect and to forgive, for renewal, for hope and, most of all, to consider with charity and empathy our fellow human beings.

With that in mind, here are some reflections on what we have learned in the last few days.

Compassion required

It is clear that the welfare of Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner must now be at the forefront of everyone’s actions.

Family, friends, advisors, the Australian Cricketers Association [ACA] and CA must act cooperatively and purposefully to assist these young men in coping with the storms swirling around them in the short term. The goal is to see them emerge with clear purpose for the next stage of their careers, whatever that may be.

Steve Smith Australia
Smith was consoled by his father, Peter, during his press conference. Photo: Getty

We have also seen how the coach’s role is so important – not only to the on-field game but also in helping guide the values and principles of the group for which he is held to account.

Change the rules

The ICC must revisit its penalty levels for ball tampering and ensure that it is a level 4 offence in cricket’s code of conduct with significant penalties – sanctions like those dealt by CA.

The reason? Reverse swing has become such an important weapon in every team’s bowling arsenal. Tampering to enhance swing beyond what normal wear and tear to the ball permits must be treated as seriously as chucking and match-fixing.

The point will be to make it extremely risky for players and captains to support the practice.


Have we forgiven Trevor Chappell for the underarm bowling incident? Yes, we have.

We have not forgotten, though. And certainly, when you talk cricket to New Zealand friends, they are always quick to remind you of the episode.

This troubling period In Australian cricket will pass, but hopefully forgiveness for these three young men and the Australian cricket team will be quick.

Acrimonious dispute continues

Cricket Australia (CA) and the Players Association (ACA) are today no closer than  during their ugly pay dispute. The ACA have been relatively silent – and it is worth noting that it was not a joint signatory to the sanctions imposed by CA.

What ACA has done is release a statement saying the penalties are excessive and that the perpetrators were not given proper process before being thrust into the spotlight – and the sin bin.

Such a position suggests little consultation between both bodies. This has major ramifications for their ongoing working relationship.


Darren Lehmann’s decision to step down was an important first move in this process.

He has been a wonderful, player, coach and mentor to so many in the cricket world. However, as he said at his press conference, he is accountable and responsible for the team’s culture – how it plays, and how it goes about playing.

Given the amount and type of change that needs to occur, Darren no longer has the energy to do it.

Darren Lehmann
Lehmann (centre) during his last training session as Australia coach. Photo: Getty

CA will then commence its ‘cultural review’ of the team. For this to have any chance of seeing effective change, it must at least review the whole “high-performance” system.

There has been much speculation in the social media world that the review should go right to the top. And, yes, we have heard very little from CA chairman David Peever.

It is time for him to step up and lead CA through this most critical period of regaining the trust and support of the public, the players, the media and the sponsors.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Easter.

John Buchanan was Australia’s cricket coach from 1999 to 2007. He is now director of his coaching and leadership business, Buchanan Success Coaching

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