Reacting to the recent ball-tampering controversy in the South Africa-Australia Test series,

Nehra backs Smith, Warner to play IPL

Ashish Nehra, Royal Challengers Bangalore

New Delhi, March 26: Reacting to the recent ball-tampering controversy in the South Africa-Australia Test series, former Indian pacer Ashish Nehra, while being critical of the incident, felt that banning skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner from the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be “too harsh”.

Hailing Smith for accepting his team’s mistake, Nehra said no team can afford to miss such valuable assets like Smith and Warner, adding that the issue should now be left behind.

“If Smith has done something wrong, the ICC will take care of such things which they have already done, by penalising him. But credit goes to Smith for admitting to his team’s mistakes. Let bygones be bygones, both Smith and Warner are assets not only for Australia but also to their respective IPL teams,” Nehra told reporters on Monday on the sidelines of the Royal Challengers Bangalore joining hands with tech giants HP for IPL 2018.

Smith was recently named skipper of Rajasthan Royals in their return to the IPL after serving a two-year ban while Warner had led the Sunrisers to the 2016 IPL crown and continues to captain the franchise.

On being asked if the franchises should reconsider their decision of sticking with the duo in the aftermath of the controversy, Nehra said: “It will be very sad if any IPL team fails to get their services. Whether they are retained as captains of their respective IPL teams, it’s for the franchises to decide, but it will be a big loss to both Rajasthan (Royals) and Sunrisers (Hyderabad) if they lose players of such calibre.”

“I don’t think they deserve such harsh punishments, whatever happened lets forget and move forward instead. He (Smith) has admitted his mistake and also stepped down as captain of his national team. You can’t expect anything more than that,” he added.

Smith was handed a one-match suspension and fined 100 percent of his match fee following the ball-tampering incident during the third Test against South Africa.

Nehra, who has joined as the RCB bowling coach, also highlighted that such instances have taken place in the past but urged the new generation cricketers to play within the spirit of the game.

“These kinds of incidents have happened even in the past. Australians always like playing the hard way across generations, but crossing the line isn’t a fair thing.

“As long as they are doing all these things including a little bit of sledging within the limitations of the ICC, that’s fine. But once you cross the line, the ICC will definitely catch you,” he said.

Nehra also added that such issues of ball tampering is more often found in red ball cricket where players are out for long sessions but have very little chances in limited over games.

“You won’t see these ball tampering things more in white ball cricket, especially now when you have two new balls operating from either end. You can see these things more in red ball cricket where you have longer sessions,” he said.

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