Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has suggested that a win at all costs mentality played a part in the deterioration of the team’s on-field behaviour which ultimately led to the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
On field antics had already raised eyebrows during the Ashes and earlier in the series against South Africa – Nathan Lyon was fined for a send-off given to AB de Villiers – before the dramatic events unfolded at Newlands which led to captain Steven Smith and David Warner being banned for a year and Cameron Bancroft for nine months.
Hazlewood, who is missing the current one-day series in England due to a back injury, said it was only the results on the field which mattered and not how the team or players were portrayed, something that he believes the new coach Justin Langer is trying to change.
“It’s a big tour always South Africa, coming off the back of an Ashes as well which was quite stressful,” Hazlewood told News Corp. “All big tours are stressful and that added pressure we probably put on ourselves as much as anyone to win.
“Where the stress has come from is that we are pretty much measured on our cricket ability, not as people off the field, which we had probably got away from in the past six months, 12 months. A focus only on results I guess drives people to do different things and we are only measured on our cricket success.
“I don’t think that’s how it is now, I think that’s changed a little bit, JL has talked a lot about how we are behaving off the field and we are going to be measured on that as well which is a good sign.”
Hazlewood admitted that the Australians didn’t grasp the seriousness of the ball-tampering controversy until the following morning when it had started to register back home. Smith was immediately stood down for the remainder of the Cape Town Test before the trio involved were handed their sanctions a few days later.
“We went to bed that night and Australia hadn’t woken up yet, when it hit back in Australia and we woke up it was quite surprising how big a reaction it was,” he said. “It wasn’t massive in South Africa, all the Australian writers know it’s going on here and there and around different teams and people have been done in the past, I guess they talked it down a bit if anything but once it hit home the media went the other way and the reaction was massive.”
Hazlewood also hinted at agreement with Langer that Smith – who Langer said in an interview with Sky Sports “maybe just wasn’t strong enough in his leadership” – lacked the experience needed to keep the team on track but added that these days players are often required to do all their learning on the international stage.
“Cricket-wise I think he was ready, he probably wasn’t ready with everything that came with it I guess,” he said. “It’s a different time now where we’re basically cricketers from the time we leave school and we don’t really experience life outside of cricket and the cricket environment, back in those times they probably got out in the world, had a few jobs, learned a lot of life lessons. Now you go straight from school into a cricket environment and cricket is all you know.”
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