Banning of WBBL player Emily Smith highlights hypocrisy of ‘naming’ teams


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At 2pm, Hohns duly confirmed every single detail that had been written or carried on electronic media. No harm was done and, in this information-rich age, everyone was happy.

Cast your mind back to last Monday.

Cricket Australia suspended Hobart Hurricanes WBBL player Emily Smith, 24, for posting her team on Instagram an hour before the 11 was officially announced. Smith was having fun, making a joke about her batting position. There was a rain delay so she was simply passing the time and put the team up.

As a WBBL player, Smith earns $26,000 a year.

She will sit out for three months, after nine months of the ban was suspended, but that means she misses the remainder of the cricket season. She can’t even play club cricket.

Banned Hurricanes wicketkeeper Emily Smith.Credit:Getty

When Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned post-Cape Town, they had to play club cricket as a condition of their eventual return.

Emily Smith was charged under the game’s anti-corruption code. The reasoning for the harsh ban was because more money was wagered on a WBBL fixture than any given NRL or AFL match, with 90 per cent of the betting in subcontinent markets, including illegal bookmaker rings.

“Spot betting” on batting orders is one of the markets they bet on, so Smith posting the batting order meant some punters could gain an advantage.

So what?

Why on earth should some young player from Hobart be tossed out of the game because in illegal gambling dens in India someone might make a winning bet?

What if the coach changed their mind and the batting order changed anyway and the punters lost? Who cares?

Suspended Test quick James Pattinson.

Suspended Test quick James Pattinson.Credit:AP

If Smith was directly giving information to bookmakers then, sure, throw the book at her. But what is the difference between a team being put up on Instagram and journalists finding out a team through sources and publishing it?

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What about Justin Langer revealing on Tuesday, two days ahead of the first Test in Brisbane, that Michael Neser and Cameron Bancroft would be 12th and 13th men?

What about Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali, on the eve of the Test, revealing 16-year-old paceman Naseem Shah would make his Test debut?

Did Langer and Ali give some bookies and/or punters in India an advantage? And so what if they did?

People with inside knowledge of a major horse stable at Randwick have a distinct punting advantage over Joe Blow who’s doing his best at the Narrabri RSL.

Cricket Australia is petrified of the reputational damage it would suffer from a betting scandal. But Emily Smith’s actions were never going to cause that.

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At the same time this was all playing out, CA was at its old smoke-and-mirrors best in dealing with the James Pattinson on-field abuse scandal. Pattinson was named in the 14, but subsequently banned from the first Test because he had used, what everyone was led to believe, a homophobic slur in a Sheffield Shield match.

While the press release never confirmed a homophobic slur was used, that was what CA allowed the media to report nationwide.

Then, on Wednesday, coach Langer said this on Alan Jones’ radio show: “Clearly it wasn’t a homophobic slur, that’s my view.”

OK. What was it then? Why no proper details around the banning of a Test player, but chapter and verse and public humiliation for a fringe WBBL player who has lost nearly everything for having some fun on Instagram?

The game’s gone mad.

Valentine Holmes is heavily rumoured to be returning to the NRL with North Queensland.

Valentine Holmes is heavily rumoured to be returning to the NRL with North Queensland.Credit:Getty

Holmes and away

If Valentine Holmes bails on the NFL after one solitary season and returns to the NRL, I’ll be disappointed. One year is not having a crack. One year is not chasing your dream. It’d be a cop-out.

OK, so he’s been released by the Jets, but the transition from elite rugby league player to NFL player would be at least a two-year exercise, unless you are a kicker.

Holmes should ignore everyone who’s in a lather to get him to return and go for it. He’s laid the foundation and is a lot closer to cracking it now than he was when he left the NRL at the end of the 2018 season.

Live your dream Valentine. You only get one crack.

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