Mumbai: When you talk about a cricket coach sharing an uneasy relationship with his team, quite a few examples come to mind. Geoff Lawson’s tumultuous stint with the Pakistan national team between 2007 and 2008 was one such example. Yet, talk to the former Australian pacer about that chapter in his career and the last thing he’ll be found doing is ranting about the bunch of cricketers who played under his tutelage. “Oh, they were a fantastic bunch. Some very good, very talented cricketers,” he says.
The personal differences notwithstanding, Lawson — who was abruptly dismissed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following a chaotic 2008 Asia Cup campaign — doesn’t hold grudges. But talk to him about the prevailing Australian cricket culture and he starts to cringe. “As Don Bradman said, you can be very competitive but you can be modest too,” he says.
In Mumbai to deliver the Raj Singh Dungarpur memorial lecture, Lawson refuses to blame Steve Smith for the scandalous ball tampering episode. “He’s very shy and naive. He’s a nice guy,” he says.
Lawson’s peeve is the prevailing culture, one he doubts will remain shelved for long despite the sequence of events in South Africa and thereafter.
“It’s that thing, about winning at all costs. At what cost?” he says. The former cricketer’s grouse with the ball-tampering episode has more to do with the ICC’s inefficiency to do the same with bat tampering, an ill eating into the.
“The ICC checks for ball-tampering. But is there a rule in place to check bats, see if sizes, weights, thickness and other factors are being adhered to? Is there a code in place? Worse, they’re now scurrying to put a code in place for what constitutes player behaviour. That shows a lot of work hasn’t been done,” says Lawson. In his view, if ball-tampering is illegal, then so is bat-tampering, except that the game — he believes — is way too skewed in favour of the willow. The 60-year-old is clear Cricket Australia (CA) won’t change the period of ban for Smith, Warner and Bancroft. “Let’s move on,” he says.