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Smith: 'Sutherland told us they pay us to win matches not just to play'

Former Australia captain Steve Smith in an interview that former Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told the team they didn’t pay them to just play matches but to win them.

Former Australian cricket captain Steve Smith speaks during a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on 21 December 2018. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The ball-tampering scandal that plunged Australian cricket into deep turmoil nine months ago, took a new twist on Tuesday when banned former captain Steve Smith told Australian network Fox Sports in an exclusive interview that former Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told the team they didn’t pay them to just play matches but to win them.

Smith, along with David Warner, was banned for a year in the aftermath of the scandal that took place in the third Test against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town in March this year. Since then, a host of top-ranking Australian cricket board members, including Sutherland, stood down as a review into the culture of Australian cricket found that it was plagued with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality that put pressure on the players to perform.

Speaking to former wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist, Smith said that Sutherland had gone into the dressing room after the loss to South Africa in the Hobart Test match 12 months prior to the tampering scandal and told the team that the board didn’t just pay the players to play matches but paid them to win the matches.

“I think back to Hobart when we lost to South Africa, it was our fifth straight loss in Test cricket after the three Tests in Sri Lanka. I remember James Sutherland and Pat Howard coming into the dressing room there and actually saying we don’t pay you to play, we pay you to win. For me that was a little disappointing to hear because we don’t go out there to try and lose games of cricket, we always go out there to try and win.”

Even with the widespread claims of a bad culture in Australian cricket, Smith says he doesn’t think that the culture was all that bad.

“Talking about cultures and stuff you only have to look back a couple of months before South Africa, were we won the Ashes series 4-0 in Australia and people were saying that the culture was really good, and everything was really good. So, things can change really quickly and obviously with events in Cape Town made people say that the culture was really bad, and people will have their own opinions on that, but I personally thought that the culture was bad.”

Smith and Warner’s bans end in March 2019 while Cameron Bancroft, who was caught on camera tampering with the ball, will be eligible for selection from 29 December.

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