Shane Warne says the Australian Prime Minister’s comments on the ball-tampering scandal were partly to blame for the “disgraceful” media treatment of the players involved.
Warne says Malcolm Turnbull’s comments caused a media over-reaction and he believes Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been treated like criminals and dealt an excessive punishment.
Smith addressed the media on Thursday with a tearful apology after being given a 12-month ban from Australian cricket.
Warne said to Sky Sports: “He isn’t Pablo Escobar. He didn’t kill anyone. He’s a guy that’s made a mistake. To see him being man-handled at airports, to see him attacked, it is like the dogs are all over him.
“I think it is a disgraceful behaviour from them. I think the way he has fronted up to the media has been completely honest, he has been up front and he has been emotional.
“You can see how much it means to him. Breaking down at press conferences and that’s because he’s feeling for the mistake he has made. He’s paid the consequences which I think has been way over the top.
“I think it is partly because the Prime Minister has come out and said ‘this is ridiculous what’s happening’. It has brought so much extra on to what has happened. It’s been away over the top. I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. The way the Australian media have handled it they should be taken to task to. It’s been disgraceful.”
Warner, who is due to talk to the media on Saturday, has also been banned for a year and batsman Cameron Bancroft has been given a nine-month ban.
Their punishments do not stop there. Smith and Warner have had their contracts cancelled by the Indian Premier League and English county cricket club Somerset say Bancroft will no longer be joining them for the 2018 season.
Darren Lehmann leaves his role as head coach after the fourth and final test in South Africa and Warne says he would be willing to help in any future set up.
Warne added: “For me, I’ve always been happy to help out any team. I like being involved and I am passionate. I’m happy to be involved, whether it’s the coaching, head coach position. Whether I’m going to put my hand up, I’m not sure.”
The former spin bowler was joined by former South African captain Graeme Smith who believes the media reaction has come from an accumulation of misdemeanours by the Australian cricket team.
He said: “The state of how things have been has taken me by surprise. It does show a couple of things. One, people have been upset with how the Australian team has played of late. It’s been a build-up of emotion, in particular towards David Warner worldwide. And then the cheating has happened and then it has snowballed.
“You just hope Cricket Australia do not leave people like Steve Smith and (Cameron) Bancroft out to dry and that they actually invest in them as people and help them learn from this mistake.”