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Hussain slams Australian ‘double standards’ over ball scandal

London, United Kingdom: Ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain says the premeditated nature of Australia's ball-tampering sets it apart from previous cases of cheating in cricket and is adamant that captain Steve Smith must shoulder lots of the blame.

Smith, 28, was banned for one Test by the International Cricket Council after admitting he and a group of his players planned ball tampering during the third Test against South Africa.

He is expected to face a harsh sanction from Cricket Australia for his role in the plot, which saw team-mate Cameron Bancroft tamper with the ball by using yellow sticky tape, before desperately trying to conceal the evidence down the front of his trousers.

"Ball-tampering has always been part of the game, so we should be careful not to get too holier-than-thou," Hussain wrote in a column for Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

"But what makes the Australians' behaviour in Cape Town different from other instances, I believe, is the premeditated nature of the crime.

"Steve Smith and his 'leadership group' sat down at lunch on the third day of the Test and decided that the team's youngest player, Cameron Bancroft, would do the dirty work."

Hussain lambasted the "double standards" of the Australian side, referring to a recent sledging row involving batsman David Warner.

"Some of the stuff he was alleged to have said to England's players during the Ashes was way too personal," said Hussain, who captained England from 1999 until 2003.

"Yet the moment anyone has a go at him, he starts bleating about where the line is." 

The former England skipper said Smith must be held to account for his role in the scandal.

"He finds himself in charge of a very good cricket team but a team that are not especially popular, even back home in Australia," he wrote.

"It's not necessarily the captain's job to be popular, but it is his job to ensure his side are playing within the spirit of the game.

"It will be very difficult for Smith now to carry on as captain once he returns from his one-match ban. Do a cricketing nation as proud as Australia really want a cheat in charge? I just can't see it."

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