FILE PHOTO - South Africa vs Australia - Third Test
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Smith and David Warner will serve out their one-year bans in full after a review of the punishments by the board of Cricket Australia (CA), the governing body said on Tuesday.
Former test captain Smith and his vice-captain Warner were handed the bans from international and state cricket after the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian Cricket in March this year.
Batsman Cameron Bancroft was also banned for nine months for his role in trying to alter the condition of the ball during a test match against South Africa in Cape Town. He will be able to return to representative cricket at the end of December.
The players' union, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), have always contested the bans were unduly harsh and had pushed for all three to be able to resume first class cricket immediately.
"The Cricket Australia Board has carefully considered all elements of the ACA submission and has determined that it is not appropriate to make any changes to the sanctions handed down to the three players," CA's chairman Earl Eddings said in a statement.
Calls for the bans to be looked at again intensified after an independent review into CA last month said the governing body had contributed to the ball-tampering scandal by fostering a "win without counting the costs" culture.
That review led to the resignation of CA chairman David Peever, who had forcefully maintained that the players should see out the full terms of their suspensions.
"The original decision of the board to sanction the players was determined after rigorous discussion and consideration," Eddings, Peever's temporary replacement, added.
"CA maintains that both the length and nature of the sanctions remain an appropriate response in light of the considerable impact on the reputation of Australian cricket, here and abroad."
The ACA said in a statement it "respectfully" disagreed with CA's decision, which it regarded as "disappointing".
"It remains the ACA's view that a recalibration of these sanctions would have been a just outcome," it continued.
"The ACA has done all it could in support of our submission, and now considers the matter closed."
Eddings in any case made it clear that no further submissions for a review of the punishments would be heard by the CA board.
"We believe the ongoing conversation about reducing the sanctions puts undue pressure on the three players – all of whom accepted the sanctions earlier this year - and the Australian men's cricket team," he said.
"As such, the Cricket Australia Board doesn’t intend to consider further calls for amendments to the sanctions."
Smith and Warner are two of the best batsmen in the world and the debate over their bans, which are scheduled to expire at the end of March, was played out against the backdrop of Australia's continued struggles in all formats of the game.
With Australia's defence of the 50-overs World Cup starting in England at the end of May and the defence of the Ashes following in August and September, there was clearly a desire among some Down Under to get the duo back as soon as possible.
Aaron Finch, captain of Australia's limited overs teams, said it had not been a big topic of conversation in the dressing room but the decision did bring some clarity.
"It would’ve been great to see the guys play some domestic cricket at the back half of the season but we have to respect CA's decision on that for the original ban to stand," he told reporters in Brisbane.
"It would have been great for Davy and Steve also obviously with Cam coming back shortly. But yeah, respect the decision and just got to move on."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Andrew Both/Amlan Chakraborty)