London: A British religious broadcast has compared the downfall of Australian cricket captain Steve Smith to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, backing fears that the reaction to the ball-tampering scandal has now rocketed into the realms of hysteria.
BBC radio's highly-respected 'Thought for the Day' slot, aired Thursday on the eve of Easter, likened Smith's fate to that of Christ, describing both as "charismatic leaders" but overseeing "broken teams".
"Three months ago Steve Smith was named Australian of the Year," said the broadcaster, Reverend Sam Wells.
"The gospels portray Jesus as a teacher, a charismatic leader, who gathered around him a tight-knit team of disciples. At the height of his ministry you can imagine him being named Israelite of the Year."
Wells added, "The Australian cricket team have been under almost unbearable scrutiny. Some reports suggest the team is falling apart, torn between loyalty, friendship, honour and truth."
Smith made a tearful apology in Sydney on Thursday after he was banned for a year after his team was found ball-tampering in the third Test against South Africa last weekend.
Vice-captain David Warner, the ringleader of the plot which saw young batsman Cameron Bancroft rub sandpaper on the surface of the ball to aid his bowlers, was also booted out for 12 months.
"The vice-captain has been singled out by some as the chief culprit, and photographs suggest he's been ostracised by the other players. If a team is like a body, this is like watching that body disintegrate," added Wells.
"Two thousand years ago another body disintegrated...Judas betrayed Jesus to the authorities. (Perhaps today Judas would have sent out a press release, or a tweet.)"
The comparison of the Easter story to a scandal involving a handful of Australians and a red, leather cricket ball brought derision on social media.
"Jesus did bowl cracking inswingers," was one response on Twitter.