Banned Australian cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are set to learn if the sanctions meted out for their roles in the ball tampering scandal are to be altered, with Cricket Australia’s board to meet early this week to determine their fate, the Guardian reports.
CA directors are expected to discuss the options available to them on a conference call on Monday or Tuesday, following calls from the players’ union to have the bans immediately overturned. Bancroft, who was given a nine-month ban for executing the plan on the field at Newlands in March, will be free to play again on 29 December, while the one-year bans handed to Smith and Warner expire on 29 March next year.
The Australian Cricketers Association said they would campaign hard for the bans to be outright quashed in the light of CA’s cultural review which found, among other revelations, the organisation had allowed a win-at-all-costs mentality to develop that ultimately led to events in Cape Town.
Given the report’s damning findings – and considering the idea of diminished responsibility – the ACA last month expressed its view that the players had “already been punished enough”, prompting a submission to CA and forcing the consideration of the severity of the sanctions.
“Yes, this moment of madness but now there is evidence and independent verification of system failure as well,” the ACA president, Greg Dyer, said after the publication of The Ethics Centre review. “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.”
CA’s directors will rule whether to let the bans stand as they are, or overturn them. Another option would be for CA to partially uphold the bans to allow the players to return to Sheffield Shield early but not international cricket.
That is the option most quickly gathering momentum ahead of the meetings this week, however it is far from across the line and there could still be numerous roadblocks.
There is some argument that Bancroft has served the majority of his sentence while Smith and Warner still have four months standing, creating an unfair situation against the West Australian.
One resolution could see the trio’s returns weighted, with Bancroft free to return for the final two Shield rounds before the Big Bash begins, and Warner and Smith allowed to resume domestic cricket after the Twenty20 break in February.
If that was to be the case all parties would have served close to 90% of their CA-enforced bans.
However that could meet some resistance from other states, given the advantage NSW would have in the second half of the Shield competition with Smith and Warner, two of the best batsmen in the world, available.
There are also concerns over the stars’ contract status, but there are examples of players turning out for match fees in Shield cricket before qualifying for a contract.
The decision has split current and ex-players, with Simon Katich and Mitchell Johnson arguing the existing bans should stand while George Bailey has called for their return to Shield cricket.
The trio have spent this summer playing grade cricket in Sydney and Perth, and it’s understood their promotion of the game, community service and contrition formed part of the ACA submission.