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Ball-tampering an international problem, says Langer

Ball-tampering an international problem, says Langer

SYDNEY: Australia coach Justin Langer claims there is a worldwide problem with ball-tampering, partly due to unresponsive pitches, while vowing it will never happen under his watch.

The former Test opener, appointed when Darren Lehmann quit in the aftermath of a cheating scandal in South Africa this year, has been working to fix the team’s behaviour and earn back respect.

He said he was shocked when he learned players had taken sandpaper onto the field to deliberately alter the ball in the third Test in Cape Town.

But he said it was not an isolated issue.

“I can’t understand for a single second how we took sandpaper out in the field. That doesn’t make any sense to me,” he told former team-mate Adam Gilchrist in an interview for Fox Sports. “What I do know though is that the issue with people ball-tampering is going on internationally. That’s a real worry.”

Langer said part of the problem with ball-tampering was unresponsive pitches worldwide, which led to desperation to gain an edge.

Although the use of saliva or sweat to shine the ball is an accepted practice, any other substance — such as sandpaper or sugary residue from sweets — is prohibited.

“I think there’s a couple of issues,” he said. “One is I think we need to get the pitches right around the world, so the ball does move whether it spins or swings. But to go the point we did was a huge mistake.”

And Langer promised it will never happen while he is in charge.

“I remember sitting on the sofa the night it happened and as an ex-player and someone who loves the Australian cricket team, I was shocked. I was sad, I was angry,” he said. “I can promise you it won’t be happening again. We’ve got to make Australians proud.

“There’s no point winning and behaving poorly. I don’t think Australians respect that. We can play hard as long as we win fair.”

Meanwhile, Australia pace bowler Peter Siddle says former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft should serve out the remainder of their ball-tampering bans despite calls to cut their sanctions short.

“You always want to see them playing cricket but I think ... the punishments are there for a reason,” Siddle told reporters on Thursday. “They understood the reasons why they got those punishments so I think ... it comes down to them, obviously, serving them out, copping the penalty that they got.

“And it’s very close to them being back. They’ve still been playing cricket around the world, staying fit and everything like that.”

Siddle said he was keen to see his friends back on the field but that by serving their bans in full they would be helping clean up the game.

“Obviously I’m close mates with them and we’d like to see them out there but also, hopefully their punishments can be something moving forward.

“Like JL [Justin Langer] spoke about last night that hopefully it does clean up the game and make it for the good of the game.”

Siddle said the players were just looking forward to opening the home summer of cricket with one-day matches against South Africa starting in Perth on Sunday.

“As a team and as players we’ve moved forward and want to just let the cricket do the speaking rather than worry about what’s going on in the outside,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2018

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