New Delhi: The Australian public and media might be baying for Steve Smith and David Warner's blood after the duo let them down in a shambolic ball-tampering incident, former India pacer Ashish Nehra, however, credited Smith and Co to have admitted to ball-tampering and said it will also be sad to see such good players missing the IPL – if that happens.
The ball-tampering incident took place on Sunday during the third Test in Cape Town when Cameron Bancroft was caught scuffing the ball with a sandpaper and was found hiding it later in his pants. Smith admitted to the guilt confirming it was the planning of the leadership group. While it is unclear as to what Cricket Australia will do regarding their fate, the ICC has summarily punished them as per its charter.
Nehra, who is the bowling coach of the RCB and was in Delhi for an event, meanwhile showed leniency by saying that if the ICC has already penalised them, their omission from the IPL will be a sad scenario for both Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals.
“I believe if they have done anything wrong, ICC is there to penalise them and they have already done that. I give credit to Steve Smith for admitting to ball tampering. It is not first time that such a thing has happened in cricket. You will not see it more in T20 or a fifty-overs game because you have two new balls operating from both ends. These things come into play in the Test format where you have long sessions and players tend to do it more with the red ball. The kind of players Smith and Warner have been for Australia, it will be very sad that if any IPL side loses them. We should instead be looking forward. I don't think they deserve a harsh punishment especially when they have agreed to ball-tampering,” said Nehra.
Ball-tampering has been prevalent in Test cricket for a long time and it was not the first occasion when anyone was caught doing it. In 2016 and 2013, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis had been at the forefront of tampering. In 2016 against Australia, he was seen applying his saliva on the ball immediately after having a toffee. Earlier, against Pakistan, he was rubbing the ball with the zip of his pants to make it rough. In 2001, India legend Sachin Tendulkar was caught scuffing the seam of the ball against South Africa and was penalised.
Nehra continued: "Yes, it [reverse swing] is an art but then stealing is also an art. Would you put a thief in jail or praise him. Reverse swing is an art but ball tampering is dishonesty. And there are ways to prepare a ball for reverse swing without tampering.
"Now conditions also play a huge role in reverse swing. If conditions are dry and the pitch abrasive, the ball will in any case reverse. For example at the Feroz Shah Kotla, even a Ranji team will get the SG Test to reverse within 10 overs."
At Cape Town though, the conditions weren't as dry which could have directly impacted the ball in reverse swing. "Usually, players get frustrated on foreign tours and Smith agreed to that too and wanted to see some swing happening,” Nehra said.
Of late the Aussies, especially Smith and Warner, have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. From Smith's brain fade moment during the India tour to Warner's verbal dual with Quinton de Kock, from Smith's heated stoush against Kagiso Rabada to Warner's dual with SA crowd, the duo has been embroiled in controversies. And Nehra says Smith and Warner are no different than their predecessors. "Not just Ricky Ponting, I have played against Steve Waugh as well. Smith and Warner are typical Aussie players. I find no difference with earlier generations. Australians compete hard and these two are no exception," Nehra said.
While Nehra, who has played against the likes of Smith and Warner in international cricket as well as IPL, the 38-year-old will now be seen scheming against them sitting in the RCB dug-out this year. At Nehra's disposal, RCB have a bunch of experienced and raw talent. But Nehra doesn't believe in the usage of the word 'coaching' and instead replaces it with 'man management'.
“ I am very excited but I have said this before that this role is not a coaching role as coaching is for U-16, U-19 level so it will be more of man management. It is a new start for me too and I will learn a lot of things. It's hard work and it is a different kind of hard work and this is related to cricket. We have a good bunch of bowlers. In the past, we were a solid batting side but bowling was not up to the mark so whatever little experience I have I will try and do better with this bowling set up,” he said.
Nehra isn't the one to measure success by results but by the completion of processes. As a bowler in his playing days, he was a smart operator and could read the conditions very well, thereby adjusting quickly. At RCB, he just wants his troop of bowlers to become mentally strong. “I don't think chances are related to only results but the process is also important. As I said, not just seamers RCB has spinners as well, like Chahal, Washington and Moeen Ali. We have enough bowlers and everybody knows Bangalore ground is not easy for bowlers apart from last year when the wicket was turning.
“So my role will be to use my 10-year IPL experience, I have seen RCB from the dugout and I have played a lot in that ground and the ground is not easy for bowlers but if you are bowling well you can bowl well anywhere. My role will be to share my experience with the likes of Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav, Chahal. What will work best for them, I will share that with them,” he said.