At a time when the entire cricket world is in awe of the batting prowess of Steve Smith and many are forgiving him for the 'sandpaper-gate' incident in South Africa last year, a former England cricketer has made a statement that will ruffle some feathers.
Member of the 2005 Ashes-winning team Steven Harmison, while talking to a New Zealand radio station TalkSport made a controversial statement.
"I don't think you can forgive him. When you're known as a cheat, and he is – I'm not going to sugar-coat it – that's on your CV. You're marked and you take it to the grave," the former fast bowler stated.
"Whatever Steve Smith does, he'll always be remembered for what happened in South Africa. That's something he's got to live with. I can't see anyone's opinion changing on Smith, Bancroft, or Warner – because they've tarnished the game," Harmison further stated on the radio station.
These comments are interesting as even the extremely hostile English crowd, which has jeered, booed and taunted both Smith and David Warner throughout this English summer, started to warm up to Smith after witnessing his epic performance in the ongoing 5-match Ashes series.
When Smith got to his double hundred in the fourth Test currently going on at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, the booing was noticeably subdued and there was appreciation and applause from a large section of the crowd.
In the second innings, Smith again performed brilliantly and scored 82 before getting out in an attempt to get quick runs. When he reached 50 in the second innings and when he walked back to the pavilion after being dismissed, there were almost no audible boos and a lot of applause. Many people even gave him a standing ovation.
At the moment, Smith has 671 runs from the series despite having batted in just five innings. He has scored two hundreds, one double hundred and two scores above 80. The 82 he got in the second innings at Manchester was his lowest score of the series.
Many people may want to remind Steve Harmison that when he and his three fast bowling colleagues led their team to victory over Australia during the 2005 Ashes, it was in large part due to the reverse swing they generated. However, it has been revealed since that the team used some external substances to alter the condition of the ball in order to achieve that reverse swing.
The players in charge of shining the ball sucked on a particular type of mint which they realised made the saliva more effective in generating reverse swing from the ball. This fact has been accepted by both Marcus Trescothick and Monty Panesar. The latter even candidly revealed that he tried to use the zip of his trousers' pocket to change the condition of the ball.
In view of these facts, perhaps Harmison would do well to be a little less judgemental.