Twenty20 superstars Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy have called on media to ease off on exiled Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner as they make their playing returns in Canada.
Australian players David Warner and Steve Smith.
Three months into a one-year ban imposed by Cricket Australia for their roles in the ball-tampering saga in South Africa in March, Smith and Warner are headlining the inaugural Global
T20 Canada league in Toronto, starting on Friday NZT.
It is a three-week tournament featuring six teams with Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Shahid Afridi among the marquee players.
Smith, the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, will get his Global T20 Canada campaign underway on Friday when his Toronto Nationals clash with Gayle’s Vancouver Knights at Maple Leaf Cricket Club, the venue for all 22 league matches.
Warner will play the following day when his Winnipeg Hawks take on the Montreal Tigers.
Global T20 officials did not schedule pre-tournament press conferences for the Australian duo, but Smith’s teammate Sammy rubbished the idea questions remained about “sandpaper gate”.
He also expressed concern about a widely-criticised media story this week about Smith “forlornly” having a beer alone in New York.
“As sportsmen, we want to do the right thing and set the right example for the next generation but we all make mistakes,” Sammy said.
“You don’t kick the man while he’s down; that’s not the human way to do things.
“There’s a right to punish but there is also a right to forgive and move on.”
Sammy insisted it was the media who needed to move on from the ill-fated Test series in South Africa.
“It’s what you put in the papers and how you want the public to (perceive) him.” Sammy said.
Sammy said he admired how 29-year-old Smith conducted a tearful and apologetic press conference at Sydney airport following the Cape Town Test, where he was given a 12-month ban and stripped of the Australian captaincy for at least two years.
“I think for somebody who has done so much for the sport, who scores runs and captains the team well, what I really respect about him is the way he took full responsibility,” Sammy said.
“That’s leadership; to be able to take more than 75 per cent share of the blame was brilliant.”
Gayle was tight-lipped on the subject of ball-tampering but referred to a Twitter post he made in March.
The star T20 batsman claimed the length of Warner and Smith’s bans were too severe but that the duo and Bancroft had to “live with this”.
“I want (Smith and Warner) to be free; they have already paid a penalty for what they have done they want to move on with their lives.” he said.