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Mitchell Starc expresses anger over Steve Smith ball-tampering press conference

Mitchell Starc has expressed anger at the way Steve Smith handled the initial press conference on the outbreak of the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town that caused tremendous embarrassment to Australian cricket.

cricket Updated: Jun 08, 2018 13:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mitchell Starc,Steve Smith,Australia national cricket team
Mitchell Starc has expressed anger upon being indirectly named by Steve Smith during the ball-tampering scandal, who later on clarified his part and Cricket Australia (CA) too gave them a clean chit.(AFP)

Australia’s fast bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc has opened up to express his anger at the way former captain Steve Smith handled the initial press conference, on the outbreak of the ball-tampering controversy, during the Cape Town Test against South Africa earlier this year.

Speaking at a ‘Women in Banking and Financing’ forum in Sydney, Starc reiterated corporate adviser Sue Cato’s warnings against ‘ill-advised, ill-prepared’ press conferences, according to The Australian.

Starc said, “Going back to what Sue said before about being up front and tackling a problem head on, that’s something the group who decided to go into a press conference didn’t really think about. They obviously didn’t see how big the reaction was going to be at that time and then went down the path of not telling the whole truth and then I guess involving another group, which ruined — well, not ruined — but affected other reputations,” he added.

The report added that bowlers were angered upon being indirectly named by Smith, who later on clarified his part and Cricket Australia (CA) too gave them a clean chit.

In a shocking press conference, Smith and Cameron Bancroft admitted that Australia’s ‘leadership group’ had deliberately decided to tamper with the ball in a Test that they desperately needed to win.

What Smith did not specify in the press conference post third day’s play at Newlands was how many members were involved in the discussion, which led to one of the most embarrassing chapters in Australian cricket history.

From what is known, the Australian ‘leadership group’ on the field consisted captain Smith, deputy David Warner, spinner Nathan Lyon and fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Starc.

The scandal, whose repercussions could still be felt in Australian cricket, has seen Smith and Warner banned for a year, and Bancroft for nine months. Smith has also been handed a one-year ban from assuming leadership position in the Australian team whereas Warner can never be involved in any such role again.

Starc, who is currently recovering from bone stress reaction, admitted that there was ‘significant fallout’ among players post that press conference.

Earlier this week, Hazlewood too spoke about the incident at a program on Fox Sports, saying that the bowlers had no knowledge about the plan.

“We obviously have ball maintenance people in the team, usually batsmen because they are in the circle and the bowlers field at fine leg. They look after the ball from time to time and if it stops swinging, normally it starts to reverse swing. We pretty much get it at the top of our mark one second before we start running in. We have a quick look to see which side of the ball is more worn than the other,” he said.

Hazlewood expressed disappointment over what happened, particularly to the three players. “It was pretty emotional afterwards, probably more so the next morning after the news hit Australia and we woke up in South Africa. Obviously Steve and Dave stepped down that morning. It was tough to be out there actually,” he said.

“I feel for the three of them. Especially Steve. Being the skipper, he had to take the full brunt. I’ve spoken with him a fair bit since and he seems to be doing better every day,” Hazlewood added.

First Published: Jun 08, 2018 13:00 IST