Call to arms: Players unite behind WBBL prankster
Outrage over the anti-corruption suspension of WBBL player Emily Smith will trigger an extraordinary board meeting of the players association on Tuesday to discuss whether to take the matter further.
The Daily Telegraph has obtained details of an update sent to players around the country, advising that a special meeting has been called to fully brief the Australian Cricketers Association board over the polarising ban handed to the fringe Hobart Hurricanes player over an Instagram joke gone wrong.
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It's unclear what measures the ACA could explore at this stage, given the seven-day window Smith had to appeal her hefty 12-month sentence (with nine months suspended) has already lapsed.
But they're eager to reinforce that Smith's prank in posting a Hurricanes team list on social media was in no way linked to corruption.
Cricket Australia sources have said the union counselled Smith to cop the ban on the chin, but the ACA completely refutes this.
They argue the decision was Smith's alone and was due to the 24-year-old being broken down by the daunting nature of the process and not wanting to risk more damage to her professional reputation.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan accused the ACA of hanging Smith "out to dry", but behind the scenes the players' association say that right from the outset they pushed for a fully suspended sentence and even now they're refusing to let the issue die.
It's understood one possible course of action could be for the players' to request a high-level board-to-board discussion between the Shane Watson and Greg Dyer-led ACA and Cricket Australia's powerbrokers.
A document obtained by The Daily Telegraph reveals the points the ACA Board will be briefed on, which includes her lack of intent, failures of team staff to collect mobile phones, and the severity of not even being allowed to play club cricket.
"All of the facts regarding the evidence; the nature of the process Emily faced; the issue of proportionality of sentence; whether culpability was singular or joint; the full extent of the ACA's unending representation over many weeks; and the views of the Membership as currently being expressed to all of us," the document says.
"One fact which is especially important which has been accepted universally - is that Emily's actions had no intent of, or association with, any form of corruption whatsoever."
It's a tricky situation for the ACA to navigate given they must balance their desire to seek justice for Smith with the fact she has already chosen not to appeal.
"The players association, I believe, should've got behind her and said, 'I'm sorry, that is far too strict for just a naive mistake," Vaughan said on Fox Cricket.
"I think she's been hung out to dry."
The ACA's message to players reiterated the importance of integrity and Cricket Australia's work in making it a priority.
However, the players' association believes taking a tough stance on match fixing, and then treating players fairly on a case-by-case basis are not mutually exclusive.
Smith was making a joke to her followers about her lowly position in the batting order for a rained out game, but CA argues she had ample chance to take the post down and should have known better given the exhaustive anti-corruption training Australian players are given.
Shane Warne hit out at Cricket Australia on Fox Cricket, arguing the ban was over-the-top.
"I think it's too harsh a penalty for that, she should've been allowed to play but I think she should be put on probation," said Warne.
"Say, 'If you do that again, you're going to get rubbed out for a year but cop your fine, you're allowed to play.'"