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Smith, Warner, Bancroft bans to stand as CA rejects submission

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Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will serve the full term of the bans imposed upon them by Cricket Australia for their roles in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal after the board considered their sanctions in the wake of the release of the independent cultural review of the governing body.

Meeting via video link for an extraordinary board meeting on Monday, the board resolved to uphold the sanctions imposed via the CA code of conduct in March, suspending Smith and Warner for 12 months each and Bancroft for nine. This means Smith and Warner will remain ineligible for international or domestic cricket until the end of March 2019, and Bancroft until the end of December.

Earl Eddings, the interim chairman of CA, stated that the Board felt that continued efforts to alter or reduce the bans, whether from the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) or elsewhere, was placing “undue pressure” on both the banned players and the Australian team as a whole. Since Justin Langer was appointed coach following the resignation of Darren Lehmann, Australia have won only five of 21 international matches across three formats – three of these against Zimbabwe and the UAE.

“We believe the ongoing conversation about reducing the sanctions puts undue pressure on the three players – all of whom accepted the sanctions earlier this year – and the Australian men’s cricket team,” Eddings said. “As such, the Cricket Australia Board doesn’t intend to consider further calls for amendments to the sanctions.

“Though we recognise that this decision will be disappointing for the ACA, we thank them for their submission. Our commitment to continue building a strong relationship between CA and the ACA in the interests of cricket in Australia remains and we look forward to meeting with them shortly to that end.”

CA’s decision means that Bancroft’s likely first opportunity to play for Australia again will be in the Test series against Sri Lanka at the end of January, while Smith and Warner must wait until April, ahead of the World Cup and Ashes in England later next year. ESPNcricinfo revealed that the Pakistan Cricket Board would be happy to move a schedule March ODI series into April, allowing the former captain and vice-captain to be eligible.

“It would’ve been great to see the guys play some domestic cricket in the back half of the season but we’ve got to respect CA’s decision on that and for the original ban to stand,” Aaron Finch, Australia’s white-ball captain, said. “It would’ve been great for Steve and Davey also, with Cam coming back shortly, but respect the decision and just got to move on now.”

The ACA’s attempt to have the bans overturned, announced publicly the day after the release of the independent cultural review, was looked upon critically by CA amid attempts to improve relationships between the governing body and the players’ union. It also did not meet with uniform support from all past or current players, amid debate about whether they should be allowed back to Sheffield Shield competition earlier than originally stipulated.

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“The Cricket Australia Board has carefully considered all elements of the ACA submission and has determined that it is not appropriate to make any changes to the sanctions handed down to the three players,” Eddings said. “Despite the absence of any recommendation regarding the sanctions in the recently released Ethics Centre Review, the Board has deliberated on the ACA’s submission at length.

“We have reconsidered the sanctions as they apply to each of Steve, David and Cameron in light of the ACA’s submission and the Ethics Centre Review and Recommendations. The original decision of the Board to sanction the players was determined after rigorous discussion and consideration.

“CA maintains that both the length and nature of the sanctions remain an appropriate response in light of the considerable impact on the reputation of Australian cricket, here and abroad. Steve, David and Cameron are working hard to demonstrate their commitment to cricket and have our continued support to ensure their pathway to return is as smooth as possible.”

In announcing his intent to challenge the bans, the ACA president Greg Dyer had said the union would be “relentless” and did not rule out legal action. However, on Tuesday the ACA accepted the decision, while stating that the board’s call was “disappointing”.

“While the ACA respectfully disagrees with CA’s decision, it is accepted,” the ACA said in a statement. “The ACA regards CA’s decision as disappointing. It remains the ACA’s view that a recalibration of these sanctions would have been a just outcome. The ACA has done all it could in support of our submission, and now considers the matter closed.

“The ACA’s submission was made because: CA’s sanctions were issued without consideration of the findings of the Longstaff review; CA said that it accepted Dr Longstaff’s findings that concluded CA needed to take responsibility for its ‘winning without counting the costs’ culture that contributed to the events in Cape Town; CA’s sanctions on the players were excessive.

“The ACA’s submission provided an opportunity for CA to recalibrate its player sanctions by permitting a return via domestic and/or international cricket.”

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