Cricket Life lessons

Public shaming

This evening, I watched two grown men front the media and thereby, the world and acknowledge something they did wrong. They were both shattered. Filled with shame about ‘letting everyone down.’ Their families. Their team. Their country. They mentioned living with regret for the rest of their lives. One of them broke down several times. The other looked broken and fragile. They had just landed in the country after being booed out of another, flanked by officers, called vile names and slaughtered on social media.

Without knowing the context, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d committed a heinous crime. Murder perhaps. Or rape or assault. Or maybe they violently bashed their partners. Or a child.

But no.

The reality is they tampered with a ball in a sport at an international level.

Watching Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith receive the abuse and badgering from strangers who they don’t know was mind-boggling. Seeing them front the media to read their statements, break down, and then have to respond to questions from journos was heart-breaking. These are young men in their twenties. Yes, they did something wrong in a sport. There is no doubt about that. And yes, it is disappointing.

But do we really need to attack and publicly shame them in this manner?

We don’t even do that to murderers, paedophiles, rapists or domestic violence perpetrators. So why are we singling out two young men who did something stupid that technically, hasn’t even hurt anyone?

It appals me that we turn a blind eye to domestic violence perps, rapists, racists, misogynists, politicians who treat refugees like crap but we are quick to jump on some moral bandwagon about cheating in cricket.

As a follower of the game and a staunch supporter of Aussie cricket since I was eleven, I admit I was disappointed when I found out last Sunday about the ball tampering incident. But I wasn’t angry. It’s a game after all. As the week has gone on, the anger and the vitriol being thrown at Smith and Bancroft from across the cricketing globe has left me stunned. Shaming and humiliating them, booing them as they walk to their plane, yelling ‘cheat’ is not called for. They may be cricketers but they are human beings first. They haven’t committed a crime.

I am not saying there shouldn’t be consequences. I am not condoning their behaviour. But I do wonder why they needed to be banned for such long periods. Why a fine and a one-match suspension as well as being stripped of leadership responsibilities wasn’t enough.

The gravity of their consequences is huge considering other consequences for ball tampering in the past and the consequences for criminal behaviours in other Australian sports. I worry for their mental health. Because in both of their statements to the media, in their body language, in their emotional expressions, the most obvious emotion was shame.

They may have felt guilty when first caught out and that would have been fine. But with the escalation of the reaction, their shame is seeping through.

Brene Brown highlights the difference between guilt and shame. While guilt is adaptive and helpful, shame is an intense feeling or experience of being flawed and therefore unworthy of love and connection.

I can only hope their family and friends provide them with love and empathy – the antidote to shame, and they get the professional support they are going to need.

As for those who have taken a moral high ground regarding this behaviour, I request you to look deep inside yourselves and question whether you have ever done the wrong thing knowingly. Whether you have lied when confronted. Whether you have made mistakes. Whether you have fallen to pressures of expectations and taken an easy way out. Whether you have hurt someone.

Because you know what? Chances are, you have. We all have.

None of us is perfect. Just like Smith and Bancroft.

We are all human beings and we are well and truly flawed. And yet, we are all worthy of love and connection.

***Linking with Deb, Min, Leanne and Joanne for the Lovin Life Linky***

Image source: Pexels

Until next time,


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  • Kaddu
    30 March 2018 at 12:01 am

    It’s not just about Cricket… it’s more about the fact that these are public figures… “celebrities”. And most people derive a special pleasure from shaming celebrities.
    Take for example Salman Khan’s deer hunting case…
    While I’m not a big fan of Salman Khan as a person or even as an actor, it DID bother me that people sounded so vehemently vindictive and vicious in their posts and comments on social media, specifically against him, even though it was an entire team who went hunting and not just him.
    I don’t understand why we have to be so judgemental all the time on social media. Why can’t we simply let the authorities do their job and mind our own business.
    Kaddu recently posted…Book Review: The Immortality Trigger by Douglas MisquitaMy Profile

  • Jo Tracey
    30 March 2018 at 9:53 am

    I’m with you on this. Yes, it’s cricket, and with the game comes a certain amount of implied integrity. Sadly though, money tends to outweigh integrity. I agree that there should be consequences for the behaviour, but I can’t agree or contribute to the public shaming – particularly not at this scale. What we saw last night were broken men – ashamed because they knew they’d breached their own moral code, not guilty because they were caught doing it. Enough already. I just hope Cricket Australia will provide them with appropriate professional support as they attempt to get through this.

  • Parul Thakur
    30 March 2018 at 1:50 pm

    I know what you mean and you are right. It just feels that the world had decided for them. You bring up a very valid point on shaming. I think in a lot of ways, apart from being a piece of news things take a turn towards what people think and then there is this whole lot of opinions on the table. It’s sad!
    Parul Thakur recently posted…Gratitude List – March 2018My Profile

  • Vinitha
    30 March 2018 at 3:29 pm

    It is sad when we humans act like vultures with no regard to the effect of our actions. Your point is so valid, Sanch. Yes, they made a mistake, that doesn’t mean that we get to trash their lives now. If only..
    Vinitha recently posted…I am happy when ..My Profile

  • Deborah
    30 March 2018 at 9:50 pm

    I’m really torn about this cos I don’t know the intricacies of the case. Did they decide on purpose to do something to the ball for eg (and plan it together – which resulted in a number of players being involved?).

    I felt terrible for the captain when I saw how upset he was but the flipside of it is that he (possibly / supposedly – like I said, I don’t know how he was involved) did something he knew he shouldn’t do – assuming he’d get away with it (or someone else did).

    I don’t agree with public shaming so for me the issue isn’t as much about our / the public’s reaction but the way it was all managed and handled.

    I heard a commentator say that the captain (and others) had led privileged lives and were suddenly foisted into a world without cricket or the thing that made them famous / afforded them higher status than they would have otherwise had. The person said, “It’s not like they’ve been arrested or imprisoned. They’re just not allowed to play cricket.”

    I ADORED South African player Hansie Cronje back in the day I followed sport. I was horrified to discover he was involved in match fixing. I kept hoping it was a misunderstanding. But it wasn’t. And it was a sad way for him to end his cricketing career. But…. he went into it with his eyes wide open.


  • Kathy Marris
    31 March 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I totally agree. I think this ball tampering affair is a big storm in a teacup. As you say there are many more important things happening in the world that deserve the media coverage that this scandal has whipped up. #TeamLovinLife

  • March 2018 Reflections - Sanch Writes
    2 April 2018 at 6:01 am

    […] I blogged a fair bit in March which surprised me a bit but I guess that came with being on holidays for a week. I wrote almost four times every week. Apart from the poetry and microfiction, I also wrote about my trip to Adelaide, the Barossa and Victor Harbor. There were the weekly gratitude posts that I love writing. And finally, one that was prompted by our current cricket situation. […]

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    3 April 2018 at 9:34 am

    I agree with you. They did something wrong, they admitted it, they said sorry (in a very heartfelt manner). Nobody died. Nobody was tortured. Let’s just agree it was a stupid thing to do, accept their apologies and move on. #teamlovinlife
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit recently posted…Day 3081 – The VIP opening of Vapiano CanberraMy Profile