The cricket world was rocked on Saturday after irrefutable evidence emerged of the Australian team tampering with the ball during their test match against South Africa. Cameron Bancroft, the rookie opener who still hasn’t cemented his place in the lineup, was caught using what appeared to be sandpaper on the ball by television cameras.

When confronted by the umpires, he attempted to hide the foreign object in his pants. Darren Lehmann, the Australian coach, was additionally seen giving walkie-talkie instructions to the bench to pass on to Bancroft to get rid of the incriminating evidence. It was clear what the Australians were trying to do, and captain Steve Smith confessed to the breach of conduct after the day’s play. Smith and vice-captain David Warner have been relieved of their leadership duties for this match, and probably for their careers.

The controversy has arisen in the midst of what has already been a tense series, replete with verbal exchanges and hard-fought, traditional test-cricket. The Australians have protested the behavior of the South African crowd and team, stating that they have crossed the line. Now, they can only hang their heads in shame, looking absolutely ridiculous in their previous sanctimoniousness as they blatantly disrespect the game, without even a degree of tact.

Smith and Warner have a long path to redemption ahead of them

When Australia last toured India, the word ‘cheat’ almost emerged from Virat Kohli’s lips at a press conference following Smith looking to the dressing room for advice for a review. He held back, aware of the seriousness of the label, but it was heavily implied at, and now it looks completely justified.

This Australian team attempts to saunter about with the same swagger and confidence of their legendary predecessors, but even before yesterday, they have remained unconvincing. The fact is, despite his numbers, Smith still had demons to conquer before he can act like Ponting, and Warner is nowhere near the class of Hayden.

And still, they swear and glare at the opposition, believing their arrogance is a God-given right on account of being Australian. The only path to redemption for this team is now keeping their head down in a very un-Australian manner; shutting up and paying respect to the game for some time. It’s time for the end of cocky press conferences and fast bowlers with 0-108 from 23 overs swearing at the batsman. This is still a talented team, full of natural entertainers, and we just want them to focus on the game.

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