Hero to Zero: How Steven Smith Lost the Respect of a Nation


Steven Smith the Australian cricket captain has let the whole country down, he has embarrassed us all and he has lead many to lose faith in one of our proudest institutions: The baggy green.

Many have poured fuel to the fire of righteous indignation, and called for Smith’s head to be served on a silver platter, and frankly I couldn’t agree more with the commentariat. The action of actively conspiring to cheat, with planning from the ‘leadership group’ is one of the most disgusting things to happen in what was formerly known as ‘the gentleman’s’ game, cricket.

As a person who has played cricket for over a decade and follows the Australian cricket team wherever they go this scandal certainly hits close to home.

The actions of Steven Smith, and the ‘leadership group’ is by far one of the worst things seen in the history of Australian cricket. It will be remembered as much as the 1981 underarm incident, whereby Greg Chappell, the Australian cricket captain at the time instructed his brother Trevor to bowl an underarm off the last ball, to secure a win and prevent a draw.

So how is the underarm incident, and the ‘Sly- Croft/Smith’ saga linked?

Well there are two key parallels, and one difference between the 1981 underarm incident, and Smith’s confession to actively plotting to cheat. Firstly, the key parallel is both Greg Chappell and Steven Smith, were having to deal with immense pressure of packed programming, with back-o-back tests and one-dayers.

The other parallel, is the ‘Win at all costs’ mentality, which has been dogging Australian cricket for the last 20 years. Many have forgotten about the essence of what makes us ‘Aussie’ that being mateship, and sportsmanship being fair and being square. What has ruined these Aussie values you might ask? Well, I think the answer is simple there is too much big money, floating around in today’s game which can ultimately break a man’s character.

I am not making excuses for this blatant act of cheating, but I am merely stating the precipitating circumstances that have lead to such an event.

One has to remember, that what sets the Steven Smith incident apart from the underarm incident is that Greg Chappell did not break the laws of cricket, although he did break the public’s faith in the Australian Captain and the institution of the baggy green.

Consistently, our institutions, the flag, ANZAC day, the Church/Christmas have been weakened by the weight of popular culture, and the progressive left, and now the only thing the average Aussie is left with is the baggy green, and now that pride and passion of that treasured cap is cannibalising itself, by the people privileged to be wearing it cheating and letting a whole nation down.

To hear that the Australian captain, a man many were starting to compare to a modern day, Sir Donald Bradman is a cheat is hard to swallow for many Australians. Just like it would be hard for many cycling fans to hear that Lance Armstrong was a cheat, after all like Smith, Armstrong had been very successful in his field winning 7 Tour De France’s until he was found out of being a cheat.

When Chappell did away with the spirit of the game, and cheated the public by committing an unsporting act the public raked him over hot coals. When Armstrong was found out to be a cheat a whole nation lost respect for him. And now that Smith has committed an unsportsmanlike act, and cheated, I suspect a mixture of the two will happen to him. Smith will be, and is being racked over hot coals, and a whole generation of youngsters have lost respect for their much loved captain.

The series in South Africa has been plagued by controversy. Vice Captain David Warner who has become well known for his poor on-field behavior had to be restrained by teammates in a dressing room dust up with South African Wicket-Keeper Quinton de Kock who made a slur against his wife Candice. Warner has stood down as Vice Captain along with Smith stepping down as Capitain for his part in the ball tampering plot.

teaches us all, and reminds us all – young to old that sportsmanship, and values matter more than winning at all costs. The ends most certainly don’t justify the means, values matter, sportsmanship matters. And, this is why I say that Smith should be permanently sacked as Australian Captain, because he has lost our respect, and him captaining our nation will lead us down a road of no return.

Author Details
Jacob Watts was The Unshackled’s Editor-at-Large and co-host of The Unshackled Waves during 2017.
Jacob Watts was The Unshackled’s Editor-at-Large and co-host of The Unshackled Waves during 2017.