Australian cricket legends Ian Chappell and Shane Warne have slammed Cricket Australia for appointing Steve Smith as the new vice-captain following his role in the sandpaper gate in 2018. Smith was sacked as captain following the controversy and was banned for two years from resuming a leadership role with the team. The former captain has now returned into the scheme, appointed as deputy to new Test captain Pat Cummins following Tim Paine resignation following the revelation of his sexting scandal.
Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell said that he fails to see the logic behind Cricket Australia appointing Smith as vice-captain over Warner, who held the post when the sandpaper scandal broke out in 2018. Speaking on 2GB’s Wide World of Sports program, Chappell slammed CA’s decision to go back to Smith, suggesting that the former Australian captain’s “crime was greater” in the Newlands episode.
Ian Chappell said, “For starters, I have a problem – why is Steve Smith looked upon as a different punishment to David Warner? In fact, if anything, I think Steve Smith’s crime was greater. For a captain to say, ‘I don’t want to know’ when cheating is involved, is not correct. A captain has got to know, he’s got to find out and he’s got to do something about it.”
Steve Smith and David Warner were handed 12-month bans for their actions, with a further year ban on leadership roles. Both cricketers have served their punishment and returned a clean slate, a fact that did not sit well with Ian Chappell.
“Either Steve Smith has a two-year ban from captaincy and so does David Warner, or Steve Smith has a life ban and so does Dave Warner. Same thing. Cheating is cheating, whether it’s big cheating or little cheating, it’s still cheating in my book,” added Chappell.
Meanwhile, Shane Warne, who is Australia’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, simply believes that Smith should not be vice-captain. Warne did not mince his words in his column for the Sydney Morning Herald, and wrote, “We all love Steve Smith and are proud that he’s the best Test batsmen in the world again, but he should not be the Australian vice-captain.”
Shane Warne added, “Everyone makes mistakes we know that and we’ve moved on from sandpaper-gate. But that happened under Steve Smith’s captaincy; he allowed that to happen on his watch. I think the punishment he was given was way too severe, which I said at the time. He paid a huge price for his mistake.”
He said, “But his second chance is getting to play for Australia again and in my opinion announcing him as vice-captain opens up Cricket Australia for ridicule and criticism and they should throw the code of conduct out the window.”
Steve Smith is mindful of the backlash his return to leadership might bring and addressed those after his role as vice-captain was confirmed. He said, “I’ve been in a position the last few years playing as a leader and now the opportunity obviously to be standing here next to Patrick as a formal leader, a titled leader, I’m truly honoured.”
He added, “There will be some negativity from some people around it, I understand that and I get that, but for me, I know that I’ve grown a great deal over the last three or four years. I’m a more rounded individual, and in turn, it’s turned me into a better leader and I’m excited to be in this position next to Patrick.”