Cricket is a sport which is regarded as a gentleman’s game by its fans. Over the years, cricket has been proven to be one of the purest sport. However, it has also witnessed some dark days. Several cricketers have been caught of doing wrongdoings. Some have been involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing while others have been caught for ball-tampering.
The most disappointing thing is when the captain of the team is involved in such incidents. Many leaders have presented bad example to their teammates after getting involved in some wrongdoing. Here we bring you five such incidents when the captains of the team cheated on the field.
5 Times captains cheated on the field:
1. Steve Smith
In 2018, Steve Smith was at the peak of his career. He was the Australian captain, a post which is regarded as the second most important person in Australia after the Prime Minister. But a small mistake would take everything away from him. During a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town, the Australians were facing a difficult situation going into an interval. The series was on the line and a defeat would mean that Australia wouldn’t have been able to win the series.
This is when vice-captain David Warner hatched a plan of using sandpaper on the ball. Captain Steve Smith was aware of this but didn’t stop his deputy. Young batsman Cameron Bancroft was handed over the responsibility of carrying out the deed. Bancroft did as he was told by the senior pros, but unfortunately, the camera crew caught it. The umpires confronted Bancroft and captain Smith, but they denied any wrongdoing.
However, official broadcasters decided to keep playing the footage on the giant screen. Later on after the day’s play, in a press conference, Smith admitted of being involved in the infamous Sandpaper Gate, which shook the entire cricket world. It tarnished the reputation of Australian cricket. The duo of Warner and Smith were banned by Cricket Australia for one year while Bancroft was banned for nine months.
2. Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting is probably one of the toughest players the sport has ever seen. The former Australian skipper was good at almost everything, be it captaincy, batting or fielding. However, there are some incidents which Ponting would go on to regret after this illustrious career. In the 2008 New Year’s Test in Sydney, Australia was up against India.
After four days of some poor umpiring decision, the match was in balance and it seemed as if it will end in a draw. Indian batsmen Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were batting and the duo was involved in a good partnership. Ganguly nicked one to the slips and Micheal Clarke took a catch, or we should say it seemed he took it. Ganguly didn’t leave the crease thinking it had bounced in front of Clarke.
The umpires were taking some time but Ponting didn’t like that. Ganguly was given out by the umpire without any confirmation from the third umpire. Later it was seen that Ponting had pointed to umpire Mark Benson and said it was out after the umpire decided to adjudged Ganguly out. As it turned out, the ball had also bounced before going into Clarke’s hands.
Earlier in the same Test, Ponting had claimed a catch of MS Dhoni, which the TV replays showed had cleared bounced in front of him. During a press conference, Ponting was asked about this and as one would expect, Ponting wasn’t too kind with the journalists.
3. Hansie Cronje
South Africa made a comeback in International cricket in 1992 after serving a long ban. Through the 1990s, as South Africa was trying to find its feet in international cricket, Hansie Cronje was the poster boy. Cronje was many things, but more than anything he was an inspirational captain.
In 2000, his name came up in a controversy which shook the entire world of cricket. Regarded as one of the most embarrassing match-fixing incidents of all time, the controversy started when Delhi Police found evidence of call recordings between Cronje and some Indian bookies. Hansie initially denied any involvement. But, with time he finally admitted that he had accepted money from the bookies and fixed a few matches.
It was revealed that he had offered money to a couple of players from his team to underperform in a few matches. Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje were two of the famous names who surfaced during the investigation but they were both cleared of any wrongdoing. Gibbs received a mere punishment along with another player Henry Williams. Cronje was banned from any further involvement in the sport whether as a player or coach. Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash in 2002.
4. Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi made his debut for Pakistan in 1995 and had been an important member of the side through the late 1990s and early 2000s. So, when the opportunity of captaincy came to the all-rounder, a lot of people expected good things from him.
Afridi did make Pakistan a solid team during his stint as the captain but there was an incident which he would be quite embarrassed about. During an ODI in Perth against Australia in 2010, Pakistan found themselves in a tricky situation. They were defending a low score of 212 and were also staring at a series whitewash.
Desperation to win got the better off Afridi. During Rana Naved-ul-Hasan’s over, the Pakistan captain came down to have a chat with his bowler. But, before handing over the ball to his bowler, Afridi decided to bite the ball with his teeth, in an attempt to tamper with the ball. Unfortunately, he was caught on camera and was banned for a few matches with the charges of ball-tampering.
5. Salman Butt
Salman Butt was given the responsibility of leading the Pakistan Test team on their England tour in 2010 after the team had seen several changes in the captaincy in the past two years. The team was going through a transition but were looking to build a good character. However, what happened in the Lord’s Test on that tour, would change Butt’s career forever.
Butt who was doing a good job leading the side was charged with a spot-fixing allegation. The eyebrows were raised when Mohammad Amir bowled an absurdly huge no-ball. A sting operation exposed the captain along with two pacers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif for their involvement in spot-fixing.
It was revealed that the trio had accepted money from the bookies to bowl a few planned bad deliveries during the game. The three players were banned from international cricket with immediate effect. Amir went on to make a comeback for Pakistan in 2016 after serving his five-year ban while Asif and Butt could never play for their national side ever again.
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