Australia

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A True Sport Report: Ball Tampering

Australians have their say

By Georgie Maynard, Director True North Research

Majority of Australians are either unsure who was involved in the incident or believe they all were
Nearly a
1/3
feel ALL the team and coaching staff were in the know
Q. Thinking about cricket and recent events during the third Test against South Africa, who do you think knew about the ball tampering incident aside from Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner. N.B. this was a multiple response question. Only the cricketers/coach named in the graph were listed in the answer options

%

Whilst Australians are calling for time out on Steve Smith most don't want a permanent ban
73%
Do not believe Steve Smith should be banned permanently from wearing the baggy green again
63%
of Fanatics want to see Steve Smith back within the year. A third want him back after this series. (Fanatics n=96)

%

Q. Do you believe Steve Smith should be banned from test cricket and if so for how long?
Whilst most think this is the end of his captaincy some are open to him returning to the role

%

1/4
are open to him captaining the side again
Q. In light of the incident, with regards to Steve Smith, which of the following should occur...
There was limited support for Lehmann before he resigned with only 12% wanting him to stay as coach for this series

Amongst dollar paying cricket fans there was even less support for Lehman with 72% wanting him to resign or be permanently removed:

Q. Which of the following should occur regarding head coach Darren Lehmann:
Only 13% of Australians feel this is the first incident of ball tampering from the team

Nearly

1 in 2

Feel this Australian team have tampered with the ball on previous occasions under the captaincy of Steve Smith

40%

Don’t know what to believe

Q. Do you believe this is the first time the Australian team has attempted to tamper with the ball under Steve Smith's captaincy?

Australians believe the impact will be far reaching

feel this has seriously damaged the reputation of the Australian Test team

feel this will impact the Australian Test team’s performance

feel this will impact Australia’s overall reputation

77%

53%

64%

44%

32%

41%

feel it will damage the legacy of past Australian Test teams

feel it will impact cricket grassroots participation

feel it will impact reputations of other Aussie sporting teams

Q. Which of the following statements do you agree with: This incident will...
Two fifths feel Cricket Australia have responded in an appropriate timeframe
The public does not agree with Shane Warne’s assertion that Cricket Australia were too reactive:
“I think Cricket Australia are trying to make a stance, I just don’t want them to be too reactive straight away… I don’t think it’s the right thing that Steve Smith and David Warner should be stood down during the match, wait until the end of the Test match.” Shane Warne
In the context of everything happening in Australia nearly two thirds feel this is an important issue

21%

17%

27%

36%

Not important (0-4)

Neutral (5)

Important (6-7)

Very important (8-10)

Q. In the context of everything happening in Australia how important do you think this issue is?

However, a third of Australians do not rate this issue as important:
Australians want answers, they do not understand why this happened
There is a deep feeling of ‘why on earth did you do this’, coupled with disappointment that the team has let kids down, Australia down and the whole sport down.
One Aussie would like to say this to Steve Smith:
I know it's hard to be a role model, but as captain you really had the responsibility to do the right thing. Kids look up to you and by trying to win at all costs you have damaged the reputation of the sport and made it hard for kids all over Australia to understand that playing with integrity is far more important than winning. I love cricket but this has made me feel like not watching anymore and that is a huge loss to me.
Another simply wants to ask Smith:

Was it worth it?

Prior to Steve Smith's emotional press conference if Australians could speak directly to Steve Smith this is what they wanted to say:
We ran the results of the survey through Beyond Research’s text analytics tool and found there were five key topic areas they want to discuss:

"What the hell were you thinking (sounds like this         decision was done at pub!)“

"Australia doesn't cheat, the ends do not justify the means, think about all the kids of Australia that are so disappointed right now."

“It is not winning… it is the Spirit of how you play the game [that’s important], because winning by cheating is not really winning. It is always cheating”

“It is not winning… it is the Spirit of how you play the game [that’s important], because winning by cheating is not really winning. It is always cheating”

"I thought you would have more sense, you are a bloody idiot!"

People just want to know why? How could Smith think this was an option? How could he imagine they would get away with it? That it wouldn’t ruin his career or permanently damage Australia’s reputation? Winning shouldn’t come at any cost.

Australia’s reputation for fair play is held in high regard. There is incredible disappointment that this is now tarnished and concern for the long-term damage to the sport and the effect on upcoming generations.

Cheats never prosper. It’s ingrained in us Aussies from a young age and it is something we hold dear.

We play the game fairly and we like to believe that this sort of thing never happens in Australia. This incident has now ruined our reputation for sportsmanship.

It was silly. We expected more. Some people were shocked by the sheer stupidity of it all and settled on a word that summed up their feelings: “idiot”.

Q. If you had the opportunity to speak directly to Steve Smith what would you say?
Their most frequently used words included the term 'Mate' suggesting a strong familiar relationship despite the disappointment in Smith's actions
If you had the opportunity to speak directly to Steve Smith what would you say?
So what does it all mean?

There will be a lot of sympathy for Steve Smith after his press conference. However, are we any closer to knowing the truth? There is a lot of uncertainty amongst Australians around who was involved, and why on earth this happened. It is worth remembering that only 13% of Australians believe this is the first time ball tampering has occurred, despite assertions to the contrary.

This is an emotional issue, and while in the grand scheme of things just a sporting issue, two thirds of Australians believe it is important. This is not surprising since a large proportion believe it not only affects Australia's cricketing reputation but the reputation of other Australian sporting teams, the legacy of past Australian cricket test teams and Australia's overall reputation outside of sport.

Cricket is at the heart of sport in Australia and sport is part of how Australians define themselves on the international stage. Rebuilding the love for the institution of cricket is something Australians will hope Cricket Australia is able to achieve.  

About the report
  • An online survey of 500 members of the Australian general population (18Yrs+) was run from midday 27th- 28th March 2018. It was weighted to 2016 ABS census data by age, gender and state.  The survey ran from midday 27th- 28th March 2018.

  • The ORU has supplied the sample for this survey. The ORU is Australia's leading online data collection agency.  ORU has the largest and most rebust business and consumer panels in the industry and they have been setting the industry standard for high quality data collection since 1999. To find out more: www.theoru.com

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