This weekend Emily Smith returns to club cricket which is terrific news for her and for the game.
The ACA wishes her well in her comeback and also believes that it’s a good time to consider what lessons the game can learn.
The facts are that on 2 November last year, it was a rainy day in Burnie with a likely washout of the game Emily was about to play. Because of this there was a more relaxed atmosphere in the change room than usual and everyone seemed to drop their guard a bit.
The players were allowed to keep their phones, which normally wouldn’t happen.
And so, as part of a running joke with her coach and teammates, Emily posted a video to her Instagram followers showing part of the team batting line-up – leaving her way down the order. ‘Robbed again’ was the tongue in cheek message to her followers, all 2,000 of them.
It was a joke, nothing more. Having personality in the change room and the game is a critical part of our sport.
But what she thought was innocent and a bit of fun, Cricket Australia thought was bad news. Because in the modern game, information in even the form of the silliest of jokes, can be used for the wrong reasons by people who the players don’t even know, have never even met or even heard of – who bet on games of cricket.
After the Instagram post, what began as a light-hearted joke became a lot more serious, instigating an at times daunting Cricket Australia investigation. And it became more serious still as the full range of scenarios was made clear to Emily by the officials – including that she may have to cop a longer ban if she appealed the severity of the proposed ban. Given the stage of her career, it was a risk Emily decided not to take.
And so, to the lessons.
First, the posting of team information before it is on the public record, is no joke in this modern sporting world.
Second, integrity in sport is imperative and cricket is right to take it as seriously as it does.
But third, it is also right that officials should be able to send the tough messages they need to while at the same time treating a player fairly with proportionate and reasonable sanctions.
So, there are lessons to learn.
Since that rainy day in November Emily has undertaken a paid internship at the ACA working across member programs and events – and like everything she does, it’s been brilliant – she is a star.
And now, it’s welcome back onto the field, Emily.