Legendary Aussie wicketkeeper – and former chairman of selectors – Rod Marsh believes that Sandpapergate was the result of Australia’s toxic ‘win at all costs’ culture.
‘It wasn’t around when I was a player but it was around when I was a selector. At every meeting, it was said we had to get to No 1 in every format,’ Marsh told News Corp.
‘I will always support the players and there’s a reason for these things happening. They were under an enormous amount of pressure to win. It’s win, win, win, win, win at all costs, which is not the way the game is meant to be played.
‘I think Cricket Australia realised they were to blame and the only way they could escape public scrutiny was by imposing these penalties on the three players involved. They would have been delighted to tell David Warner about his punishment, as they would still have been seething over the role he played in the MoU saga the year before – another example of how bad things had become.’
Another legendary Aussie cricketer Mark Taylor fired back against Marsh on Channel 9’s Sport Sunday.
‘I don’t like the comments, obviously. Is winning important in Australian cricket? My word it is. Is it to win at all costs? In my opinion, no, it never has been,’ said Taylor. ‘I know Steve Smith personally and I didn’t have any pleasure in [banning] any of the three.
— Sports Sunday (@SportsSunday) October 20, 2018
Marsh also spoke up about the prevalence of ball-tampering in cricket.
‘I wrote it in the book; every fast bowler that has picked up a cricket ball, he’s tampered with it, make no mistake about it. I even questioned whether James Sutherland [former CEO of Cricket Australia, who played as a fast bowler for Victoria] might have picked the seam. If he says he hasn’t, I’d ask him the question again.
‘That [use of sandpaper at Newlands] wasn’t that smart. No doubt in my mind it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen upon reflection. You can’t get away with that with cameras around,’ added Marsh.
‘I know from past experience, and close-up experience in the later years what the players have to go through. It’s not an easy thing. It sounds very glamorous. Sure they get paid exceptionally well but it’s very, very difficult. The players have to be looked after and the players have to respect the game … you’ve got to show respect and if you don’t, then the game will bite you, as we’ve seen.’
Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images