Compulsion Versus Retirement Drama

Compulsion Versus Retirement Drama

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 18 July, 2019, 1:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

It is without doubt that Indian cricket owes Mahendra Singh Dhoni a lot in terms of credibility and success. That said, the game is not above any one player. But as stated here a few weeks ago, the tricky situation between retirement and making oneself available entirely is now not just one of body and mind but also, of business and boom.

Sportspersons in general have a short shelf. Very few are privileged to go the distance of a Dhoni or a Roger Federer. While these men might be breaking some age barriers, currently it continues to bring to the fore the issue of whether a player should be allowed his place in the team even if it has become obvious that the vein of his skill sets is on the wane and that he is no longer integral to the team’s strategy going forward.

For long, there has been this contention of privilege, particularly within Indian cricket more so than in cricket fraternities around the world, about giving a player space and time to decide when he wants to hang up his boots. Sometimes they have been more diabolical instances where the player’s stubbornness has cost a team precious time in grooming a successor to take over.

In Dhoni’s case, there has to be something said for the fact that while his bat has clearly unperformed – even by the standards where he played the anchoring role in the semi-final against New Zealand, he is not compelled to show up at the forthcoming tournaments that India will play after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 given that he has no intention of playing the next edition and has already earned enough accolades to bench himself permanently if he so chooses.

With that said, it is a tightrope walk for the selectors to tread given that Dhoni is then not obligated to show up, can pick and choose his series until such time as he might have business and contractual commitments to represent the Indian team. This is not limited to his sponsorships but also, his ties with the Chennai Super Kings’ fortunes that could be tied into how long the former Indian captain is a visible face in international cricket.

How do the selectors then decide when someone like Rishabh Pant could use the time in the middle and when he must take a backseat when Dhoni decides to show up and play?

For the moment, the Caribbean tour is a lock in for Virat Kohli, the current Indian captain, who rumour has it, could be looking at sharing the captaincy burden. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni is sitting this one out. Does Pant benefit from playing teams like the West Indies and carrying drinks when Dhoni decides to show up for the bigger series coming thereafter? These are questions that must be addressed because India is bringing a younger generation of promising cricketers behind them and it is almost obligated that the sense of entitlement is not the lesson they are learning, particularly with already deep pockets courtesy the Indian Premier League.

While there is something to a smooth transition and grooming of a successor, unless Dhoni is part of the squad, there is little for the likes of Pant to glean from. This then begs the question whether India will thereafter leave one seat empty on the team bus for when Dhoni decides to turn up even if he decides not to play but hang in the background? Some stalwarts would say he has earned the right. Others would say, he could do that as a mentor, as a non-playing member of the support staff.

Who is winning this argument? Is there a way to settle the score? With a world Test championship in the immediate offing and more World Cups to prepare for in the coming years, can India strike balance between giving Pant more exposure and retaining Dhoni’s tactical presence? It would seem at the present time, the answer book has been handed over to Dhoni to fill in the blanks.

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Feature Cricket

Despite rankings and head to head record the contest could be close

Partab Ramchand Updated: 6 December, 2019, 5:50 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

T-20 cricket is how most of the young talent today makes their way through to the higher echelons of ODIs and Test matches. Jasprit Bumrah is a classic case of a cricketer who first created a favourable impression in the shortest format of the international game before going on to achieve fame in the two other formats. Sure, there are a few who could be termed as Test specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara but by and large the more systematic approach is to groom youngsters in T-20 cricket first and see whether they are good enough to make to ODIs and Tests.

That is probably one reason why India are not ranked that high in T-20 internationals as they are in Tests where they are No 1 or ODIs where they are No 2. India are ranked No 5 in T-20s because as Virat Kohli put it on Thursday they have been experimenting in getting the combination right for the World Cup to be held in Australia in about ten months time. As the captain said the selectors and the team management have to see which players can make the transition to coming good in international cricket and the three-match series against West Indies starting on Friday is another opportunity to get the right playing combination for the mega event.

As is well known T-20 is a format in which any team can win on a given day. Rankings matter very little and so one should not read too much into the West Indies being as low as 10th in the ICC rankings. True, the head to head record ( 8 – 5) is in favour of India and the home advantage will always be there. It is also true that West Indies are taking on India after having just gone down to Afghanistan 2-1. It must also not be forgotten that India blanked West Indies in their own backyard a few months ago. Indeed it is hard to believe how the mighty have fallen for the West Indies are the reigning World T-20 champions and the only team to have won the event twice. But then they are a mercurial lot and one can never really write them off particularly in this format in which they have produced some of the leading lights of world cricket.

Even the current side has a lot of exciting players and it is just a case of getting their act together. And if there is one player who can inspire them to perform above their potential it is Kieron Pollard. The 32-year-old captain is one of the leading T-20 stars in the game and has regaled audiences the world over while plying his trade for the various franchisees. He is very popular in India being a stalwart for many years in the IPL while representing Mumbai Indians. And keeping in mind the format and what the West Indies are capable of (they did defeat India in the World T-20 semifinal in Mumbai in 2016) one would like to think that the contest will be close despite the head to head record and the disparity in the rankings.

News Cricket

Ashwin takes the blame for not taking KXIP to playoffs

Garima Kotroo Updated: 6 December, 2019, 5:01 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ace Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is missing from Team India in the shortest format of the game, but he is a star in the carnival of Indian Premier League. Having played for the popular franchises like Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Ashwin has made his special place in the glitzy tournament.

After playing many IPL seasons for MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings, Ashwin was given the responsibility of leading the Punjab outfit in 2018. Despite putting in his best efforts, Ashwin failed to make a mark as Kings XI Punjab failed to qualify for the playoffs in the last two editions.

The 33-year-old right-hander claimed that the owners of Kings XI Punjab blamed him for not steering his team to the playoffs but he subtly accepted all the allegations made by the owners. "There are other factors, the owners did feel I haven’t delivered which is true because I could not take the team through to the playoffs in both the seasons. You can give excuses why we could not do that, but I am someone who takes it under my chin and admits that ‘yes I couldn’t deliver."

The experienced cricketer, who dominated the headlines in IPL season 12 for mankading Jos Buttler, has now joined the squad of Delhi Capitals for the next edition. He will now play alongside the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Ishant Sharma and Shreyas Iyer.

News Cricket

'From a ‘baby bowler’ to a world-beater': Mumbai Indians mock Razzaq on Bumrah's birthday

Staff Writer Updated: 6 December, 2019, 4:59 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Jasprit Bumrah has carved a niche for himself since making his international debut against Australia. The Indian pacer is one of the best fast bowlers at the moment and has made his performance count across formats. Be it any format, Bumrah has taken a lot of wickets in a short span of time. He is currently recovering from a stress fracture and is expected to return against New Zealand in 2020.

He has been phenomenal for his national team and has earned respect of his rivals as well.

On the occasion of his birthday, his IPL franchise Mumbai Indian posted a cheeky wish for their player. The Mumbai based team took a dig at Abdul Razzaq comment where he had termed Bumrah a baby bowler.

“From a ‘baby bowler’ to a world-beater #BoomBoozled #OneFamily #CricketMeriJaan #MumbaiIndians @Jaspritbumrah93,” tweeted the four-time IPL champions.

In one of his recent interviews, Razzaq had told cricketpakistan.com.pk, "After having faced the world-class bowlers in my time, I would have had no problem against a bowler like Bumrah. The pressure would have been on him. I have played against great bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Wasim Akram. So Bumrah is a baby bowler in front of me and I could have easily dominated and attacked him.”

News Cricket

HCA to inaugurate Mohammad Azharuddin Stand before first T20I against West Indies

Garima Kotroo Updated: 6 December, 2019, 4:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

While Virat Kohli and team are gearing up to play the thrilling T20I opener against West Indies at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, the former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin is preparing for the inauguration of a new stand which will be named after him before the match.

The current president of Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) will now have a stand on his name above the VVS Laxman pavilion in Hyderabad.

The new stand is expected to be inaugurated by the legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar on Friday.

Before the match gets underway, the HCA will also organise a small felicitation ceremony at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to honour the former Hyderabad players who have represented Team India in world cricket and performed well for their country.

One of the most successful captains of India, Azharuddin has played a total of 99 Tests and 334 ODIs in his great career stint. He was elected as the chief of Hyderabad Cricket Association in September 2019.

On the match front, India are looking forward to edge past the Caribbean players in the three-match T20I series on home soil.

News Cricket

Hyderabad Rape Case Encounter: Harbhajan lauds cops for swift action

Staff Writer Updated: 6 December, 2019, 4:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has praised the Telangana Chief Minister and police for killing all the four men accused of raping and murdering a 26-year old doctor.

The accused were taken to the spot for reconstruction of the crime scene but they attacked police personnel, leading to firing from the cops, which resulted in the death of four men.

The action taken by the police was praised from one of the leading cricketers in India.

"Well done @TelanganaCMO and police for showing this is how it is done no one should dare doing something like this again in future," Harbhajan tweeted on Friday.

Earlier, Bhajji had demanded strong action against the culprits after he came to know about the brutal killing of a noble soul.

“Shame on all of us we keep letting these things happens again nd again butnothing change.y can’t we make strict policy against such criminals nd hang them in front of whole town to set th examples 4 others #RIPPriyankaReddy need ur attention @narendramodi sir,” he wrote.

News Cricket

“Pose kam maar, batting karle thoda”: Rohit Sharma brutally trolls Kedar Jadhav

Tarun Singh Updated: 6 December, 2019, 2:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Kedar Jadhav got brutally trolled by India's limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma for sharing some of his pictures on Instagram from the practice session.

Jadhav can be seen in stylish poses, donning sunglasses, cap, and cricket gear in his Instagram post.

"Feels good to be back on the field and do what I like to do," Jadhav captioned the pictures.

However, Rohit was not impressed with the Indian all-rounder wasting time in getting his poses clicked. He advised Jadhav to focus on batting rather than posing.

"Pose kam maar, batting karle thoda (Strike less pose, focus on Batting)," Rohit Sharma commented on Jadhav’s post.

Indian spin all-rounder Kedar Jadhav is gearing up to play against West Indies in the ODI series after failing to perform continuously since the World cup campaign in England this year.

In five games of the 50-over World cup, Jadhav could only accumulate total of 80 runs for Virat Kohli-led India. Jadhav continued the same form against West Indies as he contributed 16 and 19 in two matches.

However, Jadhav had a great domestic season which kept his place safe in the Indian ODI squad, but he will have to replicate the same performance against West Indies too to cement his place in Team India.

India, led by Virat Kohli, will face West Indies in the opening match of the three-match T20I series on December 6.

News Cricket

Virat not bothered by Team India's low rank in T20Is, says he is not focusing on rankings

Staff Writer Updated: 6 December, 2019, 2:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India have failed to perform in the shortest format of the game. Despite home to one of the best T20 leagues in the world, Men in Blue haven't been able to find right combination across departments. The impact has been severe on their rankings where they are ranked fifth in the world. Ahead of the first T20Is against Windies, Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, was asked about India's shortcoming in this format of the game.

The skipper stated that they are working to solve their inability to defend totals. He further added that rankings are of least importance as team management is more interested in giving chances to young talent.

“We need to focus on batting first and defending low totals as well. Those are two things that we need to really focus on. T20 is a format where you can experiment a lot more than ODIs and Tests. You want to give chances to the youngsters in the shortest format, we have not played the strongest eleven together in T20Is so rankings cannot be considered. We have the mindset that we will not focus on the rankings,” Kohli said in the pre-match conference as quoted by NDTV Sports.

India will field their strongest side in the remaining matches before the T20 World Cup in 2020. “Now heading into the T20 World Cup, we need to take our best team to the field, we would probably be playing our strongest eleven going into the World Cup,” he added.

News Cricket

Ravindra Jadeja is in the best phase as an all-rounder - Virat Kohli  

Garima Kotroo Updated: 6 December, 2019, 2:54 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ahead of their enthralling T20I opener against Kieron Pollard and team, Men in Blue are looking confident of scripting another series win at home. In the upcoming three-match T20I series, Virat Kohli-led squad is aiming to iron out their flaws. India haven’t done well in T20 format, but players are optimistic of a good show against the World Champions.

Virat Kohli has showered praise on Ravindra Jadeja. The skipper feels Jadeja is in the best phase of his career at the moment.

Speaking to the press before his team’s match against Windies, Virat Kohli lauded Jadeja‘s efforts.

“I think it is really his best phase as an all-rounder and we want to maximize that.”

The 31-year-old all-rounder was preferred over Krunal Pandya, who was axed after failing to contribute in the past series. Ravindra Jadeja is now looking forward to cement his spot in the Indian cricket team ahead of T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia.

With Virat making it clear that only one spot is left in the pace unit for next year’s showpiece event, it seems India have almost finalized its squad.

News Cricket

Gambhir to invest 100 crore in Delhi Capitals

Tarun Singh Updated: 6 December, 2019, 2:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir is willing to invest INR 100 crore to become one of the co-owners of the Delhi Capitals.

He is negotiating to buy a 10% stake from the GMR group who have 50% stakes in the Delhi based franchise.

“The matter has been discussed for the last few months and it is only a matter of days,” a source said.

According to sources, the deal is almost done and the official statement will be made after the signing of agreement between the parties involved.

However, Gambhir has not revealed anything about the development yet, but the team has confirmed that the talks are on and negotiations have been good.

Gambhir had featured in two franchises as captain - Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders. Under his captaincy, Kolkata Knight Riders won their first IPL title in 2012 after beating MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings. In 2014, Gambhir led the Knight Riders to their second IPL title.

Gambhir was also successful as a batsman in the cash rich league. The left-handed opener Gambhir accumulated 4217 runs with the help of 36 half-centuries.

News Cricket

Current Pakistan cricket team is the worst of the lot - Former Australian skipper

Garima Kotroo Updated: 6 December, 2019, 12:20 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

After their humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Test series against Australia, Pakistan were highly criticized by their fans across the world. The green army were not able to win a single game in front of the aggressive Aussies despite the commendable efforts of Babar Azam.

Along with many cricket celebrities, the former Australia skipper Ian Chappell has also slammed the Pakistani squad for their poor performance in Australia.

While taking about Pakistan’s appalling record Down Under, Chappell said, “Talent wise they're better than 14 straight losses. They were abysmal this time. This is probably the worst of the lot.” He even claimed that Australia should stop inviting them after such a disappointing tour.

Earlier, the former Pakistani speedster, Shoaib Akhtar had also condemned the team for its flop show on the Australian pitches. He claimed that Pakistani bowlers looked clueless and had no idea on how to take wickets against the Aussies. Even the legendary cricketer Wasim Akram showed his frustration on Pakistan’s continuous failures in Australia.

The team led by Azhar Ali will face Sri Lanka in a two-match Test series starting from December 11 in Pakistan.

News Cricket

Irfan Pathan gives a befitting reply to Abdul Razzaq, urges fans to ignore his comments

Garima Kotroo Updated: 6 December, 2019, 12:18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

After Abdul Razzaq’s back-to-back controversial comments on the Indian cricketers, Irfan Pathan has given a befitting reply to former Pakistani all-rounder. The 35-year-old left-hander has joined the bandwagon of players who have spoken against him for his continuous laughing remarks on social media. Razzaq is hogging all the limelight for his comments on the Indian players.

While he called Bumrah a "baby bowler", Razzaq even took a dig at Virat Kohli.

"Look at Virat Kohli when he scores he scores. Yeah, he is a good player for them and is performing consistently, but I don't place him in the same class as Sachin Tendulkar, who was a different class altogether."

Irfan Pathan was furious with his words and decided to teach him a lesson. He ripped apart Razzaq on Twitter and took a hilarious dig at him.

“Irfan jese bowlers hamari gali gali mein paae jate hay' par jab jab ye galli bowler inke samne khela har baar inki gilliyan nikal ke rakh di,” he wrote.

He also urged his fans to ignore the unnecessary comments made by Razzaq.

News Cricket

Watch - Shoaib Akhtar dismisses Ali Zafar after entertaining tweet-war

Garima Kotroo Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:49 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The entertaining banter between former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar and popular actor Ali Zafar has finally come to an end. The 44-year-old legendary pacer Akhtar, who was locked in the war of words with Ali Zafar on social media, accepted the challenge of young singer for a one-on-one cricket match .

Both of them had a friendly feud on Twitter and after a series of tweets, they finally slug it out on the field against each other. In that nerve-wrecking battle, Akhtar was seen in his usual form as he delivered the toe-crushing yorker to Zafar which rattled his stumps.

In his reply, Zafar also tried his best to derail the Rawalpindi Express and he shattered the iconic fast-bowler with a deadly bouncer.

Check out the latest video of Shoaib Akhtar- Ali Zafar's friendly cricket match.

Here’s see what Shoaib Akhtar said to Ali Zafar in a hilarious tweet-war.

Zafar was also quick to respond.

Feature Cricket

5 batsmen who can break Brian Lara’s record of 400

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Australian opener David Warner smashed a brilliant 335 not out against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval during the second Test of the series. Warner had hit the runs from 418 balls with 39 fours and a six. Had Aussie captain Tim Paine not declared the innings at 589 for 3, Warner could have challenged Brian Lara’s world record of 400. As the cricketing fraternity sings praises of the Australian southpaw, we look at five batsmen who could possibly challenge Lara’s historic score.

#5. Mayank Agarwal

Having toiled hard in domestic cricket for years, Indian opener Mayank Agarwal has demonstrated his hunger on the big stage in a short international career. The 28-year-old clearly wants to make up for lost time. In just nine Tests, since making his famous debut at Melbourne last year, Agarwal has compiled 872 runs at an average of 67.07 with three hundreds and as many fifties. Two of his centuries were converted into double hundreds. With his aptitude for scoring big, Agarwal could be one of the challengers to Lara’s record, perhaps the dark horse.

#4. David Warner

He nearly got there once, and there is no reason why he can’t get there again. After meeting the man himself (Lara) recently, David Warner admitted that he is hoping for one more shot at the Windies legend’s record. The advantage the opener has is that he scores big runs at a brisk pace. His 335 against Pakistan came at a strike rate of 80.14, and even his previous best of 253 against New Zealand was notched up at a strike rate of 88.46. Warner’s Test career strike rate itself stands at 73.60.

#3. Steve Smith

Another Aussie, the great Steve Smith, is also capable of crossing the 400 barrier. The former captain has an insatiable thirst for marathon runs, fuelled further by the unfortunate events of Newlands 2018. He made a sensational Ashes return, scoring 774 runs with three hundreds, including a double century. Earlier, in the 2014-15 home series against India, he had smashed 769 runs in four Tests. Smith’s passion to bat on and on makes him a serious contender to break Lara’s magical score.

#2. Rohit Sharma

The makeshift Indian Test opener has only just resurrected his Test career, but Rohit Sharma has been so impressive in his new role that he makes the short-list. The one thing that works heavily in Sharma’s favour is the fact that he is used to scoring monster runs in ODIs -- the only cricketer with three double hundreds in the format. Sharma recently notched up his maiden Test double hundred -- 212, which came off 255 balls against South Africa at a strike rate of 83.13. His dual talent of making sizeable runs at a swift pace could see him getting close to Lara’s record in the near future.

#1. Virat Kohli

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli also has the ability to become the first Indian to cross 400. The number one Test batsman, Kohli has as many as seven double hundreds in the longer format of the game. His best of 254 not out against South Africa came at a strike rate of 75.59. Before that, his 243 versus Delhi was scored off merely 287 balls, at a brilliant strike rate of 84.66. Like Warner and Sharma, Kohli also loves batting aggressively, and for long hours. His amazing consistency is what sets him apart from the rest and, on par with Smith.

Feature Cricket

Ganguly’s Lodha Rollback Agenda

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Even as there was euphoria in the mainstream media about Sourav Ganguly becoming a cricketer representative to occupy the top post in the BCCI, there was always a concern that Ganguly was already a seasoned administrator and would therefore, either act as one or having to toe the line with those who have held the post behind him. Those concerns have now come to the fore as the BCCI AGM has decided to appeal against the Lodha report reforms, not surprisingly including issues such as tenure for administrators as well as conflict of interest.

Sourav Ganguly appeared to be pro cricket. But there was always the contentious situation that as a former captain and administrator at the Cricket Association of Bengal under Jagmohan Dalmiya, Ganguly had moved on from his playing days to now becoming a full time administrator and therefore, thinking like one. While there was reason to believe that only a cricketer would understand the plight of his fellow players, it stands to good reason that just like all cricketers do not make great captains, every cricketer cannot be expected to act like a player when he dons the administrator’s hat.

Furthermore, while the world went gaga over Ganguly’s eventually unopposed election to the post, there was skepticism that he was being propped up as the face of reform but would be rendered a figurehead against forces and factions that have long ruled the BCCI as their personal fiefdom.

With N. Srinivasan and his cronies eyeing a backdoor entry, as well as the privileged post at the International Cricket Council (ICC) once more, it was expected that one of the items on the agenda of this obdurate former administrative stronghold would be rollbacking tenure to negate the cooling off period as prescribed by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha report as part of its recommendations to clean up cricket.

However, the BCCI’s first AGM under its own leadership has used the excuse of talented and experienced administrators being benched by the mandated cooling off period as well as the age cut off which has rendered administrators such as Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah out of the game. With the BCCI intent of appealing and reverting to their old ways, it is not hard to see why there has been such skeptical mutterings behind closed doors about how much of a change this appointment really is.

With the agenda of the BCCI blatantly put forth, while there is leeway for consideration when it comes to people such as Rahul Dravid, it is easy to see how the relaxing of the rules pertaining to conflict of interest, put in place to put cricket at the forefront, will bring back all of the old malaise.

Feature Cricket

The Problem with Smith’s Proxy Captaincy

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:11 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Brain fade became a buzz word after Steve Smith was caught on the wrong foot, looking over to the pavilion to ask advice for whether to go for a Decision Review System (DRS) referral. In yet another image that is not flattering to the former Australian captain is his upstaging his current captain in a faux pas of errors that is embarrassing for Cricket Australia.

For too long, it has been considered that Smith has had his weak moments when it comes to leadership, none more humiliating than when he was the captain that allowed the ball tampering sandpaper-gate fiasco to go ahead despite having full knowledge of the malicious planning behind the scenes.

Smith was castigated by more than one former Australian cricketer for showing weakness at the press conference as he confirmed Australia had been caught red handed and also, for throwing people under the bus by claiming it was a ‘leadership group’ that was responsible. While the Australians closed ranks claiming Smith should have taken the fall alone, the world viewed this another way.

To many, which other former Australian cricketers have confirmed in several interviews thereafter, this was a low moment in South Africa in 2018 and what happened in Cape Town in the course of the Newlands Test was simply a matter of time, when rather than if. While Candace Warner, David Warner’s wife, has laid responsibility for the family issues for the intense media scrutiny, the fact that these players brought not only a huge amount of ignominy upon themselves but also, brought the game itself into disrepute seems conveniently forgotten.

Smith and Ban served one year bans on the initiative of Cricket Australia which was also seen as being preemptive on the cricket board’s part to cover up the bigger story and also, to time it perfectly for the ban to conclude ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. However, the ban also stipulated neither Smith nor Warner could hold a leadership position for an additional year.

The public consensus, even in Australia, is that the whole truth never really came out and there were damaging pictures and camera footage that seemed to imply the involvement of more cricketers as well as the coach, who may have alerted the team on the field including Cameron Bancroft. The bowlers haven’t taken too kindly for insinuations that they could not have been aware that the nature of the ball was being deliberately changed.

Now there is more damaging evidence that suggests that when former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, accused Smith of white-anting the current Australian captain, Tim Paine, he was not passing an off-the-cuff remark to hurt the Ashes too scorer.

Evidence does suggest that Smith was not only involved in animated conversations with Paine in the course of the Pakistan Test series, particularly in the Adelaide Test. While it is not uncommon for senior team mates to be a part of the discussion and advisory groups close to the captain, what seems to incriminate Smith of acting as a captain by proxy is the evidence that suggests that he then supersedes the captain’s decisions by fine tuning the fielding settings of his own volition.

What makes this particularly problematic is that Tim Paine has made no bones about the fact that he was a reluctant stand-in skipper and there has been concern with so many twist and turns with Australia unable to have an appointed vice-captain seal a berth in the last five personnel, the call for Smith to return as captain is almost inevitable, time bound ban until April, 2019 notwithstanding.

Chappell’s red flag is important as it is glaring because it suggests that there is a proxy captaincy at play which is a violation of the ban and also, because it does undermine Paine’s position in the team which is never a good thing, particularly in a team that has been wrestling to unearth another player worthy of the coveted spot.