Security surrounds Steve Smith at Johannesburg Airport.
Security surrounds Steve Smith at Johannesburg Airport.

Airport imbroglio: you'd think he committed a massive crime

A SOLITARY Steve Smith was hung out to dry during his Johannesburg Airport ambush, according to former Test quick Brendon Julian.

The Fox Sports commentator revealed it was impossible to "connect" with the Australian team in the South Africa series, which has descended into farce.

Julian sensed trouble was brewing, declaring it was a shame such an episode had to be the circuit-breaker.

Smith, who left the team hotel in Johannesburg around noon after a final emotional embrace with Cameron Bancroft and several staff, was heckled as police and security guards struggled to contain the situation.

"Purely based on the images I saw (on TV), I don't know (for certain) if he was alone or ushered through airport security, he (appeared) to make his own way, with a plain T-shirt and cap on,'' Julian said.

"He's suddenly gone from captain and having the protection from those who are happy to be by his side for every movement, all of a sudden shunted and shoved through the airport.

"You'd think he committed a massive crime, that it was more severe.

Security surrounds Steve Smith at Johannesburg Airport.
Security surrounds Steve Smith at Johannesburg Airport.

"He's still an Australian cricketer. I'm not blaming Cricket Australia, but it didn't look good.

"He hasn't match fixed. Yes, he made an error and the culture needs to be fixed, but when I saw him walking through the airport, I thought is it really that bad?

"I felt that was brutal. They're paying a huge price."

Despite CA's insistence that the bans were strictly related to the "sandpaper-gate" investigation, Julian believes Warner has paid for past sins.

He said the cultural car crash had been unfolding for a while and the players did not understand the gravity of the situation when they first fronted the media.

"That first presser, in their widest dreams they did not think it was going to be such an issue, which to me gets back to culture,'' he said.

"The first Test it was on, you felt after the first Test that something was brewing.

"You felt you could not connect with this Australian team. Everyone has got to take responsibility.


Cameron Bancroft also attracted plenty of attention.
Cameron Bancroft also attracted plenty of attention.

"It was the win-at-all-costs attitude and pushing the boundaries.

"Much of the behaviour (like sledging) was unwarranted, if not stamped on by (CA high performance chief) Pat Howard or whoever. Those things start to fester.

"I haven't been happy with the culture. They were far too aggressive, at times stepped over the line.

"It's just very sad it's taken something like this to bring it to a head. All of a sudden they're saying it should be changed. It should've happened a long time before.

"I felt it (the style) was very aggressive in the Ashes campaign."