Rick Lewers

Ball tampering and sanctimony

cricket ball

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I offer this confession. I used to pick with my fingernail the seam on the Kookaburra so the ball would swing or cut better. IF you are not a cricketer then that last sentence probably makes no sense. Perhaps you would be more familiar with the expression "ball tampering". Yes, sadly I must confess to being a one-time ball tamperor.

I have just returned from Bali where "ball tampering" has obviously become world news reaching the small surfing village of Canggu. Who would have thought that a nations pride, its moral integrity, and its hopes and aspiration would hang on a piece of sandpaper and cricket ball? Why such is the moral outrage even the Prime Minister, among other political leaders, believed the matter to be of such national importance he needed to address it. God help us!

I have not been privy to all the information surrounding this cricket tragedy but it is always worth hearing the words of Jesus Christ in such contexts, "Let those who are without sin cast the first stone." Such "world shattering" wrongs are so often the playground for self-righteous and sanctimonious commentary by those whose personal failures have not yet been revealed. Such people even seem to be able to assess whether the tears of a David Warner are real or show but are unable to recognise the inconsistencies in themselves. And on a hill in South Africa, spectators on the events showed their own deeper depravity by launching their attacks on the player's wife, tampering with the human dignity of another. It would seem that we live in a world where nothing is sacred and none of us are holy.

Public office comes with public scrutiny and I have to admit that the contrition of our one-time Aussie Captain, Steve Smith, may well be his finest innings even though it was played through tears. While the footage was damning, his confession, without attempts to cover up, was refreshing. The acceptance of responsibility, irrespective of what limited involvement Smith may have had, is admirable in an age where people are constantly ducking their responsibilities. Smith's no blame response is highly unusual when you consider the "everyone else is to blame" culture in which we live. Not arguing the umpires decision, accepting the punishment, not making excuses or claiming privilege are lessons worthy to be observed. I live in hope that his responses in the future will be of equal dignity.

The Steve Smith interview is footage worth showing your children. Not a perfect off drive or square cut, but the right response of a man who failed in his duty to do the right thing. It takes a lot to teach us the most important lessons in life but thanks to the model of our one time Aussie Captain there is hope for a better future.

When Steve Smith met the media's questions I noted that he was never without his father's support. That's what dads do! They support their children even in times of failure. Well done Mr Smith and thank you for modelling fatherhood in an age of absentee fathers.

All of us tamper with life in ways that bring it into disrepute. There is nothing better when facing up to our foolishness than to know the support of our Heavenly Father. He offers forgiveness rather than condemnation and supports us for a better future. The great thing about God is that although He does not miss wrongdoing and He will take disciplinary action, He always offers mercy and grace.

Not that the Cricket Australia Board would ever listen to a ball tampering, Anglican Bishop from Armidale, but I would encourage those among them who can't throw stones to offer a merciful and gracious response to the Australian players involved that exemplifies other qualities we also wish our children to learn and that our culture needs.

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