Steve Smith deserves longer suspension, says Ehsan Mani

The former International Cricket Council president feels “there should be a much tougher sanction” for the cheating indulged in by Smith & Co.

Ehsan Mani believes the ICC should send a strong message to the players.   -  Getty Images

The decision taken by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to suspend Australia skipper Steve Smith for just one Test has surprised the council’s former chief Ehsan Mani.

“I am surprised that the suspension has not been longer. I would have thought that something like this, which was blatant cheating, deserved a longer suspension for the player. It should have been for a month or so. There should be a much tougher sanction for this act,” Mani told Sportstar from Dubai on Sunday.

The veteran administrator, who was at the helm of the ICC from 2003 to 2006, admitted that the ball-tampering saga should be investigated thoroughly. “This case needs to be investigated far more thoroughly. When the management and the top players were involved, it was done knowingly and deliberately,” Mani said.

Mani is flabbergasted by the ICC’s handling of situations in the recent past. While Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hassan escaped bigger sanctions for his walkout threat, Kagiso Rabada, too, walked free in the second Test with just financial penalties.

“These players work under a lot of pressure, and things get emotional. This is not the first time this has happened. Michael Atherton did it in Lord’s and got caught. These things will happen, after all players are human beings. The message should be to players that you[’ve] got to play the game maintaining the spirit of cricket,” Mani said.

But does the ICC at times, get a bit soft while taking decisions on stars players of top teams? “There is a general feeling that I get from people is that some countries get away easily. I hope this is not true and I hope the standards of discipline are the same across the boards, regardless of who the player or team is. ICC has to get that message across,” the 73-year-old said.

‘Message should be extremely strong’

And it is to drive this message home that Mani would have liked to see the senior players of Australia facing tougher sanctions. “Smith is one of the best batsmen of the world, along with Kohli. The message should be extremely strong. In this case, captain Smith should have been banned for more number of matches. Suspending for one Test is meaningless,” the former ICC chief said. “The senior players who were involved in the decision should have also been sanctioned,” he added.

Having administered the game at a time when big players like Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara were still around, Mani believes that ICC at his time would never compromise. “Such things certainly did not happen in our times. Malcolm Speed was tough. Dave Richardson was the head of cricket at ICC then, so I would not have expected him to take things easy just because cases involved high-profile players,” Mani said.