Australian cricket captain Allan Border with team chaplain Dr Mark Tronson in 1984 celebrating his 10th year as chaplain
Yes, what Steven Smith did was plain stupid. He was the captain of the Australian cricket team leading the Australians in the Test Series with South Africa – a position traditionally held in high regard for integrity as well as skill.
Ball tampering is simply not on. It is not in the law or the spirit of the game.
Amazingly, Cameron Bancroft’s act of rubbing the ball with a foreign object was there for all to see, as was his attempt to hide the object in his pants.
It will forever be a blight on both the Australians and the game of cricket itself. Like Greg Chappell's instruction to Trevor his brother to bowl underarm. More of that later.
Australian cricket caption Steve Waugh and Dr Mark Tronson team chaplain, Hamilton NZ, March 2000
There is another side to this
I served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years to 2000 – from Kim Hughes to half way through Steve Waugh's era. Since 2001 I have led the Life After Cricket ministry with a bi-annual newsletter whose editorial team heralds some of the great names of cricket of that era.
News.com yesterday in an article by Jai Bednall spells out other issues with which I concur.
Jai asks isn't there anyone willing to stand with Steve Smith.
Jia Nednall's article asks these pertinent questions / issues. I have made them generic.
What if a 'quick' is directed by the captain to run on a certain section of the pitch in their follow through - it has happened many times.
What if a bowler, in their run through, makes no attempt to veer from a batsman coming for the run and shoulder butts - it has happened, indeed in the Second Test, a week before.
What if rubbing granules of soil on the ball is not this dissimilar to using lolly-saturated saliva on the ball - “saliva” is allowed in the rules.
And as Jia Nednall points out - the umpires didn’t even change the ball Bancroft tried to rough up!
Australian quick Merv Hughes and Dr Mark Tronson team chaplain, MCG 1987
Behind the scenes
One might remember almost 40 years ago Greg Chappell directed his brother Trevor Chappell to bowl the ball underarm to New Zealand's Brian McKechnie. This is within the rules, but considered not within the spirit – in other words, “not cricket”. Afterwards Greg Chappell spoke of being fed-up with cricket's dramas off the field.
Now, have a reflective think on what's been happening with the Australian team and some of the dramas associated with members of the Australian team off the pitch in South Africa.
A wife being denigrated. Horrible and thoroughly inappropriate name calling. The team being jeered and indiscriminate disruptive actions.
Then in the last Test the game's ICC officials decided to clear on appeal South African quick Kagiso Rabada for the bump he landed on Smith. Media reports claimed this ICC group didn't even call to see the videos – we all saw it from 17 different angles (as it were).
Media commentary on this decision had little choice but to identify it as having a political element.
Fed up. You’d better believe it.
I'm with Steve Smith – these are tough competitors, but where is the level playing field on and off the field? Something deep inside me indicated something was going to give.
Stupid yes, incredibly so, but when will those behind the scenes fall on their own swords. Where was Cricket Australia's criticism of the ICC decision not to view the video replays of that bump? Clearly, some of those behind the scenes are not supporting the lads as one might have imagined.
Steve Smith goes – we all know about the WWI Western Front, the Generals in their hedonistic French Chalets.
As a Christian minister I have two responsibilities and often they too compete. Forgiveness and accountability. Steve Smith will get plenty of accountability, possibly even severe trauma on his future earnings.. But he who is without sin ….
Easter is after all the story of Grace and forgiveness as Christ died on the Cross to wonderfully provide an avenue for forgiveness. I pray Steve Smith may now renew his spirit for that which is even greater still.
Australian cricket caption Mark Taylor and Dr Mark Tronson team chaplain, Gabba 1991
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at