Australia ball-tampering bans are unfair, player union says

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Media caption,
From ball-tampering to bans and tears: how Australia's week evolved

Cricket Australia should reconsider bans given to three Test cricketers involved in a ball-tampering scandal, the players' union says.

Former captain Steven Smith and batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft apologised last week over the incident in a Test match in South Africa.

Smith and Warner received 12-month bans from the sport, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months.

The bans were "disproportionate" to the misconduct, the union said.

Australian media outlets have reported that the players, in particular former vice-captain Warner, are considering whether to challenge the bans.

Australian Cricketers' Association president Greg Dyer said the players had shown "absolutely extraordinary" contrition through their separate press conferences.

"Their distressed faces has sent a message across the globe as effective as any sanctions could be," he said on Tuesday.

"I think Australia cried with Steve Smith last Thursday - I know I certainly did."

Cricket Australia's investigation found that Warner had instructed Bancroft to carry out the plan to scratch the ball with sandpaper, and demonstrated to him how to do it.

Degrading one side of a ball can help it to swing in the air, making it harder for batsmen to play.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Australian Cricketers' Association president Greg Dyer

Mr Dyer said Smith and Bancroft had been "rushed" to face the media immediately after the match in Cape Town.

"It would be unfair to any person in any workplace to be rushed in this fashion," he said.

"The pressure the players were under was not an excuse, but it is relevant."

He also called for a review into Australia's "win-at-all-costs culture".

Coach Darren Lehmann resigned last week, despite Cricket Australia finding that he had no involvement in the incident.

Under the sanctions, Warner will not be considered for any Australian team leadership positions in the future, while Smith and Bancroft cannot assume captaincy roles for at least two years.

Smith and Warner have also resigned from the captaincies of their Indian Premier League teams, and lost lucrative sponsorship deals.