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Ball-Tampering Scandal

‘They’re good people’ — Moises Henriques launches astonishing defence of decried trio

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Moises Henriques has launched a spirited defence of his beleaguered Australian teammates indicted in the ball-tampering incident, saying the criticism of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft has been “a little bit out of line”.

The ball-tampering saga engulfed the Australian team during the third of their four Tests in South Africa in Cape Town, when cameras caught Bancroft attempting to alter the condition of the ball with what was later found to be sandpaper.

Cricket Australia handed Smith and Warner – found to be the mastermind behind the attempt – 12-month bans, and Bancroft a nine-month ban. The players came in for much flak, and Smith and Warner broke down in front of the media after returning to Australia.

"They did the wrong thing, but they’re trying to do it so the team wins"

“They did the wrong thing, but they’re trying to do it so the team wins”

Henriques said while the players were wrong in attempting to tamper with the ball, their crimes being for the benefit of the team rather than an individual made it more forgivable. “There are two kinds of people who break the rules in sport; ones that do it for their own personal gain, whether that be financial or performance, and there’s ones that try and do it for the team and so the team can win,” he told Melbourne-based SEN Radio. “And I’m not saying the second one is okay, it’s definitely not okay. I’m just saying I find one easier to forgive than the other.

“The batters are involved here … they’re not cheating for themselves and they’re not breaking the rules for their own statistical gain, so they can average 50 rather than 40. They’re doing it for the bowlers. They did the wrong thing, but they’re trying to do it so the team wins. They’re not fixing a match where they’re trying to purposely lose a game for their own financial gain.

“There’s grey areas in terms of the character of these people. They broke the rules, they’re being punished and fair enough. But some of the comments about their character are a little bit out of line.”

It was for the team, not for personal gain ...

… it was for the team, not for personal gain …

Henriques even took to Twitter to state his points on Wednesday morning, before expanding them during the radio interview. He said he had seen enough and needed to stand up for his mates. “There’s people out there copping a fair bit of flak and I was trying to offer a slightly different light on the character of these people,” he said. “I ask people to put themselves in their shoes and be aware when they’re passing judgements that they’re just human beings as well.

“I know they’re role models and they’re paid to be, and they’re well looked after. But a tough time is a tough time. I knew I was going to cop a fair bit of flak after the tweets, but I just can’t sit back and listen to some of the things that are being said about people who, underneath it all, are actually pretty good people in my eyes.”

In the aftermath of the ball-tampering incident, CA announced a cultural review of the team, to be conducted by a panel of former players and active players, chaired by Rick McCosker, the former Test opener.

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