Australian captain Steve Smith has come in for criticism from former Aussie skipper Ian Chappell for his attempt to fix a result in the third Test against the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday.
Smith admitted he had approached West Indies skipper Jason Holder with a proposal to engineer a result that Holder had rejected. Smith put forward a proposal of an Australian run-chase of 370 from 70 overs on the final day of play in Sydney, which would have had to be manufactured by declarations and the hosts deliberately underperforming.
“I would have declared 0-0 and then bowled lob-ups for seven or eight overs or whatever it is,” Smith said at the post-match press conference. “For us that would have potentially been me bowling with three slips and two gullies and leaving every man up for them to try and hit as many as they can.”
But Chappell, a respected cricket commentator and writer, said Smith’s actions in attempting to do a deal with the West Indies in order to force a result could have brought into question the game’s integrity in an age of match-fixing.
Chappell did not agree with the tactic –– even though Smith said he checked with coach Darren Lehmann and match officials to make sure the scenario was allowed –– because of the developments cricket has made in recent years to distance itself from the shady underworld of contrived results.
“I don’t like it when captains get together and start to make deals,” Chappell said. “I’m not sure cricket in general, not just Cricket Australia, would be all that thrilled to hear that the captain is going to another captain and trying to make a deal because in this age of fixing, I would have thought that leaves things open to a lot of problems. I’ve never agreed with it, even before fixing became a pretty important subject, but even more I think it’s important not to do those things now.”
Chappell said he would rather see the actions of a team determine whether a result is possible. Even though Smith was in a difficult situation because his side was bowling, the former Australia skipper said there was not much he could have done.
“If you want something to happen a bit out of the ordinary, if you’ve lost time and you want things to happen, I think your actions should show you want to do it,” Chappell said.
“The people who paid their money, even though they didn’t on Thursday, they’re entitled to look out and say: ‘well, I’ve paid my money to watch something serious, not hit and giggle’.”