The Ashes 2019 – Fourth Test, Day 4: A Question of Balance: On Bradman and Smith.

 

I’m sick of watching Steve Smith.

 

There, I’ve said it. Expressed (as an Australian) the ultimate heresy. Perhaps I deserve to be stoned to death.

 

On the second afternoon of this current Test match at Old Trafford I was part of a texting exchange with an old mate who lives in Darwin which ran:

 

AH: They [England] were unlucky not to get Smith in the first few overs today. Now he’s immovable.

 

BW: Agree, he could’ve been out three times in Archer’s first over.

 

AH: England can only hope for a draw here.

 

AH: At last! [after Smith’s dismissal c Stokes b Leach]

 

BW: No. [after the DRS showing the no-ball]

 

AH: Unbelievable!

 

AH: How does a spinner bowl a no-ball?

 

BW: He’ll make 250 now.

 

BW: I’ll take a break for a while …

 

AH: Might do the same. I don’t really enjoy watching Smith with his irritating mannerisms etc.

 

The irritating mannerisms are only part of it but on going to bed slightly prematurely I was struck by the understanding of how before Don Bradman was admired, before he was worshiped, he was (in fact) resented.

 

Victor Trumper was the great batting aesthete and he began a chain of Sydney batsmen – Charlie Macartney, Alan Kippax, Archie Jackson and Stan McCabe – whose styles complemented that of the great Vic. Then there was the Boy from the Bush Bradman who came along with his crude agricultural methods.

 

At the age of twelve Bradman had been taken to the Sydney Cricket Ground and witnessed Macartney’s 170 against England in the final Test of the 1920-21 Ashes series, glorying in his stroke play. Early in his career there were no doubt many spectators who wanted to see the bigger scores made by his better-looking team-mates Kippax, Jackson and McCabe. Jackson’s tragic death at 23 from TB effectively canonised him in Australian cricket lore.

 

McCabe’s supporters could hold the candle for their man for his three great innings – the first of 187 not out at Sydney in 1932 when Bodyline was almost destroyed at birth; the second at Johannesburg in 1935 when he made 189 not out; and the third of 232 not out at Trent Bridge in 1938 which enjoyed rich praise from Bradman himself.

 

Jackson devotees could point to their hero’s 164 on debut at Adelaide Oval in 1929, and the supposed observation that he was able to handle the short-pitched bowling of Larwood at The Oval in 1930 better than Bradman while making 73 and his partner went on 232. Jackson (so an argument went) would have dealt more effectively with Bodyline than Bradman.

 

Bradman had to deal with these comparisons before surpassing his colleagues and ancestors with the sheer weight of his run-scoring but even he later remarked of another elegant slightly later player, Ray Robinson (not the journalist), who scored 2 and 3 in his only Test match in 1936, that any century by Robinson was to be preferred to watching one by himself.

 

Was too much Bradman ever too much for Australian cricket followers? Not according to history as it has been passed down to us.

 

The search for second Bradmans began early. Jack Badcock, the Tasmanian prodigy who became Bradman’s South Australian team-mate for several years before the Second World War became the first player given the tag and it continued with Ian Craig, Norman O’Neill and Doug Walters but was mercifully dropped after that until Steve Smith’s Bradmanian run-scoring in both the last and this Ashes series revived it, and yesterday brought three stories in the Weekend Australian by Peter Lalor, Gideon Haigh and Andrew Faulkner.

 

Haigh’s article headed ‘Arise Sir Steven, you’re a synonym for Bradman’ encapsulates his dominance by beginning with a famous 1938 quote in which Smith’s name is substituted for Bradman’s.

 

Lalor’s piece bears the heading ‘Smith the stuff of English nightmares’ but the most interesting element of it is a quote from Smith himself:

 

I think and visualise before I play where people are likely to bowl to me and where I am likely to score and try to picture fields that are set and play things over in my mind, where I am going to get runs and how they are looking to get me out.

 

No doubt many top sporting figures employ pre-visualisation techniques but this is a wonderfully clear expression of what he is trying to do and by way of comparison I can only think of a remark once made by Jack Nicklaus that he pre-visualised every shot he made in tournament golf.

 

Faulkner’s article, ‘Lift for unorthodoxy goes back through greatest’ makes much of a recent interview with Smith by Nasser Hussain for Sky Sports which I also witnessed. What struck me was that Smith’s backswing with his bat was towards gully and perhaps just a little more exaggerated than Bradman’s which went towards second slip. Most importantly, however, his head is still. Faulkner also alludes to Smith’s remark in the same interview that if he was a coach he would not fiddle with a youngster’s back-lift, a comment that would surely be endorsed by Bradman who opposed over-coaching.

 

Winning Ugly was the title of tennis book written by Brad Gilbert who reached number four in the world and coached Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray at various times. We know that the stylists don’t always come out on top; that while Roger Federer and Virat Kohli are easier on the eye Rafael Nadal and Steve Smith (with all those extra movements) are often more effective players.

 

Back in the 1990s when I worked as curator of the Adelaide Oval Museum I fell into discussion one day with Maurie Roberts, a man who had played three games for South Australia as an off-spinner and plied his trade in club cricket for Port Adelaide. Roberts told me of bowling to Bradman on one occasion in a district cricket match against Kensington and how he started with an off-stump line. Bradman began pulling him through mid-wicket. He shifted his line a foot outside off-stump. Same result. He then started pitching a yard outside off-stump and Bradman continued with the stroke. He (Roberts) had no answers and I looked up the newspapers to discover that The Don had made 188. It wouldn’t have been pretty.

 

Smith today picks up plenty of his runs with leg-side dabs from balls pitched on the stumps and sometimes even outside off. It’s mighty effective and keeps the scoreboard turning over.

 

The question of balance is integral to making these strokes which demand a great degree of risk but balance is more important in the wider scheme of things. Bradman’s batting average which was so much higher than everyone else made him a statistical outlier and Smith’s current form puts him in the same category.

 

Having watched cricket for more than half a century I like the balance of the game: between bat and ball certainly; and between the leading batsmen of opposing sides, not only the way they score their runs but the amounts they score. Among the current Australian batsmen the player who provides the most aesthetic pleasure for me is Usman Khawaja but Marnus Labuschagne is an elegant player, Travis Head is certainly stylish and Dave Warner is absolutely explosive when at the top of his game. I don’t mind seeing a fifty from Smith in a couple of hours, I don’t mind him making the occasional century but I prefer to see different players getting runs, and not watch him piling up score after score while the rest are merely by-standers.

 

Too much Smith for me is too much.

 

As the game stands at the end of Day 4 with England 2-18 a match  win and retention of the Ashes by Australia appears likely. And Smith would logically be named Man of the Series. To prevent that happening, and the chance to fight on at The Oval, would seem to depend upon another superhuman effort by Ben Stokes.

 

We’ll know the answer soon enough.

 

 

Read more from Bernard Whimpress and about Bernard Whimpress and his recent book on Joe Darling HERE.

 

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About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) currently writing his 20th book. For the previous 15 years was Curator of the Adelaide Oval Museum and Historian for the South Australian Cricket Association. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Most recent books - The MCC Official Ashes Treasures and The Greatest Ashes Battles.

Comments

  1. Man of the Series
    Well, Stokes has not put in another freak matchwinning performance today, so I guess the man of the series has been decided.
    Archer burned bright for a while, but only because it seemed for a moment like he was able to counter Smith.
    But what of the Australian bowlers? Cummins perhaps?

  2. Smokie Dawson says

    This is a wonderful piece, Bernard.
    I enjoyed every word.
    Thank you so much.

    Alas, I beg to differ: I just love watching Smith bat. He is thrilling! He is brilliant!

  3. Steve Hodder says

    During Smith’s first innings I thought I was watching brilliance intermingled with the curious, but towards the end of his second innings I thought it the bizarre interspersed with some exceptional moments. Nevertheless, you’d prefer him at the crease than not.

    Onya

  4. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thanks 6%, Smokie and Steve
    I guess I like the 50 average men, although the occasional series with an average of 100+ is OK. In my youth I absolutely thrilled to Doug Walters series of 699 runs at 116.50 against the West Indies for example but then Walters was the most watchable of all batsmen – Walters with a helmet would probably have averaged 55 over a career by the way although maybe not because that would’ve meant too much time away from a game of cards.
    I am interested in the derivation of 6%. I wrote a piece once about being 6% of a Test match crowd – an attendance of 17 at the last day of the 1967 Adelaide Test against India so wonder what inspired your choice of name.

  5. Bernie (I hope you don’t mind being called Bernie), I’m with Smokie on this one. I love watching Smith bat – he’s a real breath of fresh air. Watching many other batsmen is, to me, same old, same old. I’m sorry the great doyen of cricket commentators, Richie Benaud is no longer with us. How I’d love to hear his opinion on Smith’s style etc.

    I too was a big fan of Doug Walters. How I wish I had a tiny bit of his ability. Unfortunately my hand eye co-ordination was not good enough for ball sport much to the disappointment of my Father who dabbled in may sports.If only Dad was alive today i would love to talk cricket (and Footy) with him as I did 20 odd years ago.

    Bernard, I always look forward to your takes on sporting events – keep up the good work.

  6. Roger Lowrey says

    Sorry Bernard. I too respectfully beg to differ.

    I love watching Steve Smith bat. Specifically, and in addition to his other qualities, what impressed me most in this Test was his uncanny ability to pick gaps in the field.

    To be sure, most first class batsmen can do this to some degree but Smith did it so effortlessly and at will.

    I take the view that we overlook any relatively minor irritating eccentricities and admire the very special player who has come our way. Enjoy the air at the top of the mountain while it’s there for our enjoyment.

  7. Bernard Whimpress says

    Fisho, Roger
    I’m glad to provoke your comments. Agree that Smith’s ability to pick up singles at will on the leg side is one of the best features of his game. Contrast that with Shane Watson a few years ago who drove the ball beautifully but most times straight to the field and scored most of his runs in boundaries. I saw Watson make 89 in a long partnership with Clarke at the MCG a few years back and the longer he batted the more limitations he revealed. I rarely listen to commentary but Michael Holding made an excellent point the other night that while Root was attempting to block his leg-side scoring it weakened the chance of dismissing him to catches in the slips.

  8. Bernard, as regards stylish batting, I well remember a certain John Lill playing for SA in the sixties. One of my many Dad’s cousins married a chap named Roy Carr. For many years Roy worked inside the ADELAIDE OVAL SCOREBOARD and witnessed many fine cricket matches.

    Whenever Roy and Valmai dropped in for a visit, Roy, Dad and I would spend a good deal of time talking cricket. He always raved over Lill’s batting and the aggression of that great entertainer, Les Favell. Neil “Nodder” Dansie also often came up in conversation.

    If both (Dad and Roy) were still alive today, I wonder what they would have made of Smithy’s very effective style. Smith certainly would never need to wear one of those cork hanging hats to ward off flies, his flourishing bat surely does the trick.

  9. Great writing Bernard, I can watch Mr. Smith all day. I love the difference he presents. And on Archer I’ve heard someone say “looks like England have broken their new toy already “.

  10. Thank God the cricket is over for a few days er nights. Hopefully Fisho will now come to bed at a reasonable hour.

  11. Bernard Whimpress says

    Fisho
    Lill was a favourite of Alan McGilvray who he used to compare to Alan Kippax. He also made the same remark about Alan Shiell when he made one of his two first-class centuries at the SCG. Sadly Shiell’s career at the top level was brief. By the way I have an old press photo featuring Roy Carr I’ll send you. Hope you can keep Mrs Fisho happy for the final match at The Oval.

  12. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thanks Mike
    I hope not in Archer’s case as he looks the goods.

  13. Bernard, I would really appreciate Roy’s photo. A while back I sent a letter to Boomer in the ‘Tiser regarding Roy.

    When holidaying at West Beach a long while ago, a lady pleaded with him to save her boy who was in difficulty out in the water. Quick as a flash Roy stripped down to his undies and swam out to the lad who, as it turned out, was suffering from severe cramp.

    By the time Roy managed to get the panicking boy ashore he was completely exhausted as you would well imagine. Did he receive any thanks from the mother? Not likely, she said the job was only half done. She expected him to swim out again to retrieve his board. But Roy had to refuse , he was too exhausted.

    Without a photo, Boomer didn’t publish – incidentally they have published 15 of my past recollections.

  14. Geoff Sando says

    My admiration of Steve Smith’s batting during this series is amplified by the fact that almost all of his runs have been scored while Australia has been under extreme pressure, the only exception perhaps being the final runs during his 211.
    This contrasts greatly with most instances of a batsman scoring truckloads of runs in a series. I recall, for example, the first series when I discovered cricket. This was the 1968-69 tour of the West Indies team to Australia. Doug Walters was magnificent, but he was up against an aged bowling attack which had earlier in the summer been put to the sword by Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry.
    Smith sometimes has a look of vulnerability, but he has excelled against a very good attack. He has been pillared by a constantly hostile crowd, Some say that shouldn’t impact, but there is surely a huge body of evidence to suggest otherwise. Finally, he has copped a really severe injury which was eerily similar to that which accounted for Phil Hughes. The prospect of having to return to face a rampaging Archer would have made many gun shy. His response was outstanding.

  15. Geoff Sando says

    My admiration for Steve Smith’s batting during this series is amplified by the fact that almost all of his runs have been scored when his team has been under enormous pressure. Perhaps the final runs in his innings of 211 are an exception. This contrasts starkly with most instances where a batsman scores truckloads of runs in a series. I recall, for example, the first series when I became aware of cricket. This was in 1968-69 when Doug Walters batted so brilliantly against the visiting West Indian team. With Hall, Griffith and Sobers, the visitors had an aged attack which had earlier in the summer been put to the sword by Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry.

    Steve Smith sometimes has a look of frailty about him. He has baby-faced looks and talks like a country boy in the city (which, of course, we know he is not). Yet this is the man who has dominated a pretty good bowling attack on generally sporty wickets. Throughout he has been confronted by hostile crowds. Its easy to say that this shouldn’t matter, but there is an enormous amount of evidence which contradicts the assumption. Finally, Smith received a severe injury which was eerily similar to that which accounted for Phil Hughes. The prospect of having to return to face rampant Archer would have made many gun-shy. Smith’s response has been outstanding. It is this constant pressure over extended periods which is Test Cricket’s great attraction.

  16. Really enjoyable writing Bernard, thanks for the effort and time. But I, too, must disagree. On the sole ground that I like him playing for us rather than against us! He certainly has some odd habits and you would not want to try to emulate his footwork, but I like watching blokes who play any game a bit differently from the average. I forget now where I heard it, but somebody likened him to Derek Randall, which I thought was about as close a description as I could manage.

    Apart from all that, the sight of English fieldsmen retrieving the ball from boundary ropes is manna from heaven to this supporter who has seen too many English victories.

  17. Bernard – like you I don’t enjoy Smith’s batting but greatly admire it. Read an article today about skill v technique in golf. We coach technique but skill is the ability to deliver the right shot at the right time under the greatest pressure. Smith reminds me a lot of Derek Randall with his nudges and quirky gestures. Smith’s tunnel vision enables him to sustain it. He doesn’t care if others laugh because he only listens to an internal muse. Derek’s Centenary Test innings was pure genius, but he heard the “lucky mug” laughs.
    Other ugly duckling sporting genius that comes to mind. Gary Mcintosh at Norwood in the SANFL. Arnold Palmer at golf. Matt Priddis at my Eagles. Slasher MacKay and David Steele at the crease. Tangles Walker bowling or batting or catching.
    Have a look at Matthew Woolf the new wunderkinder on the PGA tour. As coaching has moved from video surveillance of positions to Trackman study of impact numbers – there is more acceptance of not coaching out quirks – just ensuring the quirks on the way back have compensating quirks on the way down.
    It takes all kinds and all styles. Thankfully.
    Thanks for verbalising what others have been thinking.

  18. Thought-provoking Bernard but I can’t agree with you. Surely when assessing an individual’s contribution to a team sport, form must be secondary to function. I found Mark Waugh incredibly frustrating to watch in his early days because his amazing ability and graceful stroke play were so regularly compromised by his tendency to get out when seemingly in control. It seemed a waste. It was only his match winning century in challenging conditions at Port Elizabeth in 1997 that changed my view about Waugh. At last he demonstrated persistence and self discipline as well as aesthetics. And in truth, is it not these qualities that epitomise test cricket?
    In a series in which the Australian batting has looked constantly vulnerable I thought our true test would arise when Smith was dismissed cheaply. It never happened. Australia has retained the Ashes largely because Smith simply kept accumulating runs relentlessly and compellingly. I found it breathtaking. If anything, in a game defined by convention and conservatism, Smith’s weird mannerisms and unorthodox technique made his performance even more mesmerising.
    The paradox of test cricket is that within a consummate team sport, it provides an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to dominate the game. When a great player like Smith takes this opportunity why should we be critical of him? On this point let me also throw into the mix England’s one moment of triumph – the miracle at Headingly – which was also the result of a great individual performance. Ben Stokes’ innings will be forever remembered for his breathtaking hitting at the end, but I thought it was his dour stonewalling late on Day 4 that was really admirable. It was as though he was hellbent on being at the crease for the battle ahead on Day 5. Ugly, yes. Boring, yes. Appropriate to the stage of the match? Absolutely. Effective? You betcha. In the T20 era, too many test cricketers seem to lack the appetite for the game’s less attractive aspects including the requirement at times to monopolise the batting for long periods when ones teammates aren’t up to it. Smith and Stokes have this appetite in abundance and as a result have been the stars in an otherwise mediocre series.

  19. One of my favorite moments from this Test followed Smith falling backwards to the ground avoiding a bouncer from Archer or Broad. While flat on his back he practiced the shot he thought he should have played. I’ll take eccentricity every time.

    Cheers

  20. Well, after reading those brilliant comments on unusual batting styles, what more is left to say except that quite often, it’s the unusual that can be exceedingly effective. A bowler, “Froggy” Thompson comes to mind. It was often said that while the batsman laughed at his strange bowling they got themselves out.

    When fishing, most anglers hold the fishing rod under their left arm and wind with their right hand. I fell in love with fishing at age 4 and , being right handed, I wanted to hold my rod under the right armpit. Therefore, when using one of my Dad’s rods, I looked rather awkward (rod held in right arm and also winding in with right hand) but it worked.

    Over the years I built up quite a good reputation as being able to catch fish at will – some even said in the bath.However, I was not completely alone with that unusual looking style for 2 others, Bob Stuart and an old English gentleman, Bill Curtis fished the same way. Both were exceptional anglers. in point of fact, I always considered Bob as one of the best fisherman I have ever seen.

    Anyway, the point of my ramblings is that one doesn’t need a conventional style to be effective, say what you like about Smith but to quote Ian Chappell, “who would you like batting for your life”. When the chips are down, there’s nothing like Smithy.

  21. Bernard Whimpress says

    Geoff
    All you say is true. Can’t argue with Smith’s comeback after the Archer hit or his ability to pick up singles at will on the leg-side and then smash errant balls pitched outside off. Can’t argue that he’s made runs under pressure. I’m simply stating my preference for moderation. Of course, moderation from Smith would have meant losing the Test series. On Walters in 68-9 I agree that Lawry and Ian Chappell gave him glorious opportunities to build on huge foundations. Recall how Lawry named Chappell the best batsman in the world after that series only for him to come undone in South Africa a year later. My especial liking for Walters was his ability to tear attacks apart when on song. The off thing about the WI attack that year is that they weren’t that old. Hall and Griffith were only about 30 and many fast bowlers of the modern era who took over 300 Test wickets obtained more than half after that age. Sobers and Gibbs weren’t that old either but back around 63 when he was playing for SA Sobers was told that he had the knees of a fifty year old. Both he and Gibbs had another five or six years of Test cricket as you know.

  22. Bernard Whimpress says

    Peter
    Games are certainly richer for the ugly guys. Arnold Palmer’s follow-through was the ugliest part of his swing but it added to the drama. Never thought Macca was ugly but then I’m technically a Redlegs supporter. Rick Schoff to me was an ugly player but a superb performer and one of the gamest marks – a man Sturt could rely on in tough situations.

    Sounds good, Rick
    I missed that one but liked the falling over drive through the covers. My main point is about preferring to see the other batsmen on show as well.

    Stainless
    Mark Waugh was frustrating in the manner of Kim Hughes and I think kept his spot largely because of the beauty of his batting. Remember when he came home from Sri Lanka with four successive ducks yet it was Dean Jones who’d averaged about 60 who lost his place and never played again. I’ve written about this and other things in my book, On Our Selection (2011). Darren Lehmann should’ve played 127 Tests instead of 27 – I know it was probably our best era ever for batting but still he was a wonderful player. I’m not criticising Smith but simply stating my preference for balance in the game. Agree that the most remarkable feature of Stokes’ innings was his ability to play in two moods – dour defence and then switch to such ferocious attack. For me the greatest moment for me was ignoring the celebration of his century because he still had the object of a win at the front of his mind.

  23. Bernard, as yet another Redlegs’ supporter, I agree with you about Macca. There was nothing ugly in the way he played the game although some may say he wasn’t the most handsome of players.

  24. If you want to turn this into a discussion about ugly styles, especially in football you Norwood mob, then I wish to nominate Paul Northeast of the Cockle Divers. Q. E.D.

  25. Bernard Whimpress says

    Could go on forever, Bucko but maybe I’ll leave the last word with you.

  26. Bernard Whimpress says

    Fisho
    I used to have wooden toy – an acrobatic man – which Froggy Thomson later reminded me of. I don’t know about players laughing when facing him but he was certainly highly effective leading up to his Test selection. Perhaps it was his misfortune that he ran into Geoff Boycott and John Edrich at the peak of their formidable powers.

  27. Getting back to Steve Smith. I’m sick and tired of the people who keep harping on his part in the sandpaper gate affair. Some, quite recently in the letters to the editor of the ‘Tiser, have suggested he have a 5 years ban whilst other s say ban him for life. Even a past English bowler (I forget his name) claimed in the English press that Smith can be classed, “Once a cheat – always a cheat”.

    These people seem to forget that quite a few other top cricketers, English included, have been caught ball tampering and received nowhere near the harsh penalties that Smith, Warner and Bancroft did. That, of course, doesn’t excuse our players.

    They’ve done theit time – it’s time to move on. Hopefully no one will ever tamper with the ball ever again.

  28. Think that might have been one S. Harmison, Fisho, with some in-depth analysis for one of the saltier English tabloids!! I am with you, as I have said here previously.

    It also needs remembering that the ICC gave Smith et al a suspension of 1 match…..it was the Australian lynch mob that increased it to a year. If all English ball tamperers got a year, there would be an almighty hue and cry.

  29. Bucko, I didn’t know about the ICC’s suspension – I only knew about Australia Cricket’s part. At the time of the incident in South Africa, I was in hospital for a lengthy period and was only aware of some of the facts at that time. As some of the news filtered through to me I first thought it was the South Africans that had transgressed. Imagine my shock when I discovered it was our chaps. Anyway, it’s all over now (hopefully) so let’s move on. We can do without Harmison’s comments thank you.

  30. Bernard, a thoughtful examination of how enjoyment and admiration can be two very separate things.

    As someone who coached juniors for a decade, Smith’s batting has me reconsidering many things. There’s no way previously you would have encouraged a developing kid to bat like Smith. But is that sort of judgement really the best? The textbook is a good starting point, but how far should it limit natural inclinations?

    With Smith, some attributes (sharp eye, quick hands) obviously outweigh other considerations. He has been fascinating to watch.

    Cheers

  31. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thank you, John

    I was talking last night to an educational psychologist who had also played senior grade cricket and done a lot of coaching. He remarked that Smith resembled many people suffering Asperger’s syndrome particularly with his post-stroke movements, obsessive degree of concentration (before as well as during innings), and his behaviour revealed in his initial bewilderment following the sandpaper affair. It was something I hadn’t thought of before and certainly some sports stars (like geniuses in music, mathematics, chess etc) betray some oddities. Mo Norman who is sometimes regarded as the greatest ball-striker in golf was a much more extreme personality who evolved a marvellous method with a swing that was far from pretty.

  32. Bernard, I have no psych qualifications, but those observations tally with my experience of people on the spectrum.

    The idea of ‘normal’ that we tend to operate from is rarely so clear cut as we pretend it to be. By the very things they do, high achievers in any area don’t really fit ‘normal’.I think it’s a concept we should generally leave aside when discussing top sportspeople.

    And aesthetics are really a matter of personal taste. But it’s fun to debate. :)

  33. This is late but I’d like to add to Fisho’s comments about the sandpaper affair. The ICC’s decision to give a one-match suspension to Smith showed how it rated the matter. I’m not defending that decision but Cricket Australia’s overblown reaction in giving Smith and Warner lengthy bans was arguably payback for the stand the pair took during the long-running pay dispute. Many have forgotten that Smith and Warner knocked back bigger contract offers, intended to put them onside with CA and split the players. Instead, the pair, particularly Warner, refused more money and fought for all Australian players. They paid the price, as did Bancroft for consistency reasons.

  34. Bernard Whimpress says

    Can’t argue with your logic, Ashley.

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