Lengthy bans for Smith and Warner send strong message, says England captain Root
England are hoping to salvage some pride against New Zealand in the second Test.
Joe Root describes Steve Smith and David Warner’s 12-month bans for ball-tampering as a ‘strong message to world cricket’ about standards of conduct required.
Australia captain Smith and deputy Warner will be unable to play professionally for the next year – while Cameron Bancroft, their foot-soldier accomplice against South Africa in Cape Town, must serve a nine-month suspension.
The absences are among a raft of Cricket Australia punishments after Smith and Bancroft’s admission to a plot – in which Warner was a ringleader, it has transpired – to use sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball.
England captain Root, meanwhile, has had to choose his words especially carefully both in relative private and public.
He has issued a measured reaction on the ball-tampering fall-out, and also administered rallying calls to team-mates as they try to extricate themselves from their own mini-crisis after five wide-margin defeats in six Tests this winter.
The latest innings trouncing in Auckland has put England on the brink of an unwanted record sequence of 13 away Tests without victory – not to mention series defeat too – if they cannot beat New Zealand in Christchurch.
Remarkable. Trent Boult has 6-32, his best Test innings figures. England are all out in their first innings for 58. 20.4 overs bowled. Live scoring | https://t.co/MiIfpeaU9o #NZvENG pic.twitter.com/3NYhpS2mc8— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) March 22, 2018
Such is the public clamour against Australia, however, England’s plight was relegated to any other business as the first task in Root’s press conference at Hagley Park was to respond to the bans.
“I think Cricket Australia has made a decision which is a bit of a statement to world cricket,” he said.
“I think it’s quite a strong message for everyone.”
It is incumbent on him to uphold standards of behaviour, if not performance, he believes England have reached under his captaincy so far.
I’m very frustrated in terms of the results... we’ve probably not done ourselves justice
I think we conduct ourselves pretty well on the field … I’m happy with that,” Root added.
“That’s what people want to watch, and that’s how we want to play – good, hard cricket that is obviously within the guidelines of the game.”
As for the current pariah status of Smith and Warner, he said: “Everyone will have their own opinion.
“I’m not going to sit here and say what (people should think and do) … they can make their minds up on it themselves.
“All I need to do is make sure I look after this team, and make sure we’re doing everything in the right manner.”
He is unlikely to encounter any sharp practice, or Aussie-style hard-nosed sledging, from Kiwi hosts held up as paragons of role-model best practice on the pitch.
Asked what makes New Zealand so different from their near neighbours, Root said: “There might not be as much said verbally.
“(But) when you play against New Zealand you still get a sense that they’re playing good, hard cricket.
“They go about things very much in their own way, but you know you’re up against a side that is desperate to win and is very skilful.”
Root knows this is no time to be focusing on the opposition or, less appropriately still, those who have fallen from grace elsewhere.
As England move on from the embarrassment of their first-innings 58 all out last week, he said: “We’ve had some good, honest chats as a collective – and we’re really clear about how we want to take things moving forward.
“I’m very frustrated in terms of the results … we’ve probably not done ourselves justice (all winter).
“(But) it’s exciting there are people … making strong cases for themselves and giving the guys in possession a strong push and a nudge to know they’ve got to keep improving, got to keep learning – and they’ve got to do it quickly.”