CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Australia’s win-at-all-costs mentality is behind the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed their cricket and they should now introspect how they play the game, according to South Africa coach Ottis Gibson.
Leading the touring side at Newlands, Steve Smith admitted that the pressure of being behind in the third test led to an orchestrated attempt to alter the condition of the ball to aid reverse swing and gain an advantage.
“The Aussies have said it themselves, the brand of cricket they play is win-at-all-costs,” Gibson told reporters on Tuesday, adding that Australia’s relatively comfortable 4-0 win in the Ashes against England might have played a part.
“When you look at the Ashes, they were never really behind in any of the games, they won quite comfortably.
“Here they have been behind a couple of times and perhaps that desperation came into it. It’s a shame that something like this had to happen for them to have to have a look at themselves.
“Every team, since the beginning of reverse swing, tries to get the ball to reverse. They skim it in, they bounce it in, they try and get it rough. The spinner gets his hand in the dirt and rubs it on the ball. Everybody has got a way of getting the ball to go a little bit further.
“The ball will reverse naturally, but everybody has a way of getting it to go a little bit further. Perhaps the desperation that they were behind in the game meant they took it that step further. It’s unfortunate.”
Gibson is surprised how “big” the story has become globally, but believes this is because of the spectacular fall-from-grace for a side that had been a power in the game for so long.
“When you see such a deliberate act, then people will become very interested in it,” he said. “Especially with what Steve Smith said, that it was planned by a few of them, makes it an even bigger topic for people to talk about.
“Cricket Australia is a hundred-year-old organisation and they have been the envy of the world in terms of winning World Cup and so on. They have had great teams and great players for a long time.
“Those great players from the past will now feel like their good name has been tarnished a bit, so people have a right to be upset about it.”
The former West Indies fast bowler hopes his teams always play within the laws of the game.
“I would hope it (ball-tampering) never happens under my watch. I am not going to sit here and say that we are whiter than white or anything, but we will try and play the game within the rules at all times.
“We know what the rules are and the imaginary line that was talked about the whole series. We feel like we know where that is. We will make sure that we never try and cross that line.”