An emotional Steve Smith is comforted by his father, Peter, as he faces the media at Sydney International Airport on Thursday after flying back to Australia amid the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. Picture: Getty Images
An emotional Steve Smith is comforted by his father, Peter, as he faces the media at Sydney International Airport on Thursday after flying back to Australia amid the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. Picture: Getty Images

London — Global cricket boss Dave Richardson declared that ball tampering and bad behaviour threatened "cricket’s DNA" and would not be tolerated by fans in the wake of the Australia cheating scandal.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO said the "public has spoken" on bad behaviour in the game as he delivered the annual MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture at Lord’s on Monday.

Richardson referred to events during the 2018 SA versus Australia series when Australia captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were slapped with bans for their roles in a plan to change the ball’s condition using sandpaper.

"Cricket’s DNA is based on integrity, but we have seen too much behaviour of late that puts that in jeopardy and this has to stop," Richardson said.

"Sledging that amounts to no more than personal abuse, fielders giving send-offs to batsmen who have been dismissed, unnecessary physical contact, players threatening not to play in protest against an umpire’s decision and ball tampering. This isn’t the version of our sport that we want to project to the world."

During that notorious series, SA bowler Kagiso Rabada was suspended for making contact with Smith, though his ban was overturned on appeal, and there was an off-field scuffle between Warner and SA’s wicketkeeper, Quinton de Kock. As a result, the ICC toughened its code of conduct, increasing bans for ball-tampering and bringing in sanctions for verbal intimidation.

"The public reaction around the world to the incidents in the recent Australia-SA series was an eye-opener," said Richardson. "The message was loud and clear, cheating is cheating and it’s not what we signed up for."

Richardson said he found it a "little disingenuous" for players to say that rules were unclear about how the condition of the ball could be altered legally.

Players had asked if they could chew gum, wear sunscreen or drink a sugary drink.

"The laws are simple and straightforward: do not change the condition of the ball using an artificial substance. If you are wearing sunscreen, sucking a mint or chewing gum with the intent of using the cream or the sugary saliva on the ball, you are ball tampering," he said.

AFP