Cricket Australia says behaviour has improved after cheating scandal

David Warner and Steve Smith have both returned to play for Australia following 12-month bans for ball-tampering
David Warner and Steve Smith both returned to play for Australia last month after bans for ball tampering

Australian cricketers' behaviour has improved after attempts to clean up the game following the ball-tampering scandal, says Cricket Australia.

The men's national team had no conduct citings during the 2018-19 season, the first clean slate in seven years, and charges at all levels dropped 74%.

Cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were all banned for ball-tampering last season.

CA chairman Earl Eddings said the improvement shows "meaningful change".

"Everyone in Australian cricket is well aware that it's not just winning that counts, but how we play the game, and the players have certainly embraced that spirit," he added.

"While there is always room for improvement, these are very good signs... and will have a positive and lasting impact on Australian cricket at all levels."

Eddings said umpires had also reported they were being accorded more respect from players as the new, less abrasive culture beds in.

An independent review, commissioned by CA, found the body to be "arrogant and controlling" and partly to blame for the bans handed to the trio, who all played a role in using sandpaper to tamper with the ball against South Africa in March 2018.

In addition to their lengthy suspensions, the scandal also hastened the departures of coach Darren Lehmann and CA chief executive James Sutherland.

Warner and Smith, who were both banned for 12 months, returned to play for Australia earlier this month. Cameron Bancroft, who was suspended for nine months, had already resumed his career.

Following the release of the figures, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) praised the way players had worked for cultural change.

"At all levels, the players understand their role as ambassadors in growing the game and are to be congratulated for the way they are conducting themselves both on and off the field," ACA president Greg Dyer said.