Steve Waugh    AFP
Steve Waugh AFP

Former Australian captain Steve Waugh urged everyone to have a “focused and balanced perspective” in ongoing ball tampering scandal that has rocked Australian cricket with their current captain Steve Smith facing a hefty suspension from the Cricket Board. Waugh, who captained one of the finest Australian sides during the late 90’s till early part of new millennium termed the Australian’s team dishonest approach as an “error of judgement” and called them to revisit the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ manual which they had customised from the original MCC manual.

“A focused and balanced perspective is needed in the condemnation on those involved in this, with a clear and critical consideration to the social impact and mental health of all players,” Waugh wrote on his official Facebook page, which was also uploaded by Cricket Australia. I will support all positive action to ensure an outcome for the betterment of the game, regaining the trust and faith of every fan of cricket, he added.

“He didn’t hide the fact that he was deeply troubled by the action of the players. Like many, I am deeply troubled by the events in Cape Town this last week and acknowledge the thousands of messages I have received, mostly from heartbroken cricket followers worldwide”, Waugh said today.

Waugh, who always believed in the sanctity of ‘Baggy Green’ added: “The Australian Cricket team has always believed it could win in any situation against any opposition, by playing combative, skillful and fair cricket, driven by our pride in the fabled Baggy Green.”

“I have no doubt the current Australian team continues to believe in this mantra, however some have now failed our culture, making a serious error of judgement in the Cape Town Test match. In 2003, we modified the Spirit of Cricket document originally created by the M.C.C., to empower our players to set their own standards and commit to play the Australian way.”

“We must urgently revisit this document, re-bind our players to it and ensure the spirit in which we lay is safe-guarded for the future of the sport, and to continue to inspire the dreams of every young kid picking up a bat and ball and for every fan who lives and breathes the game.”

Under an initiative proposed by Cricket Australia – and driven by Waugh and his then deputy and ODI captain Ricky Ponting with the endorsement of the national women’s team skipper, Belinda Clark Australia’s leading men’s players set down the standards of behaviour and values they believed they should uphold.

It became known as The Spirit of Cricket Project’ with Waugh and Ponting to undertaking discussions with CA’s then chairman Bob Merriman and (current) Chief Executive James Sutherland.