In the wake of the Australian cricket scandal in South Africa, there are different views on whether the practice of ball tampering is prevalent in cricket’s amateur ranks.
Members of the Illawarra cricket community have also voiced frustration that the incident has tarnished the reputation of their sport.
First Grade Captain of the University of Wollongong Cricket Club, Mitch Calder, said that the professionalisation of cricket has increased the incentive to cheat, but added that it was a major problem in the lower levels of the game.
“Generally I think at a local level there’s a lot less at stake, there’s no need to resort to these sorts of tactics,” Calder said.
“All of us at Uni do play hard, but we try to play as fair as we can.”
Ayden Skorulis, who has played cricket for 13 years at a junior and senior level, said it was more prominent than people might realise.
“I never came across it as a player, however, I definitely heard about it,” Skorulis said.
“[However] it seems to be done in a much more calculated manner at a professional level.”
Cricket commentators including ABC veteran Jim Maxwell have condemned the incident, blasting a so-called “corroded culture in Australian cricket.”
Calder has welcomed news that Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft have been banned from playing the final test match of the series.
“Hearing that they have been sent home I think is pretty justified for the actions that they’ve done” Calder said.
“It’s against the spirit of the game, and it’s not a habit I’d like to see in our Australian cricketers.”
The decline of the gentleman’s game?
The test series between Australia and South Africa has been plagued by unsportsmanlike conduct, including sledging exchanges between Australian Vice-Captain David Warner, and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for sledging in cricket to be banned, adding his voice to suggestions cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game.
Calder said short of personal attacks, most cricketers accept light sledging is a part of the game.
“I think words are okay as long as they don’t cross the line,” Calder said.
Jonathon De Lyall played cricket with Northern Districts for around ten years, and said the decline in the gentlemanly aspect of cricket wasn’t such a bad thing.
“A truly gentleman’s game would be boring,” De Lyall said.
“That’s not to say the spirit of cricket no longer exists, just some elements take on a different shape to what they once did.”
He said the ball tampering issue was disappointing and an embarrassment.
“It definitely came as a surprise, although in hindsight, maybe it shouldn’t have.”