In a startling revelation, David Warner’s manager James Erskine has claimed that Cricket Australia’s (CA) officials allowed players to tamper with the ball more than a year before the sandpaper gate scandal broke out in the Cape Town Test in 2018.
The players got the go ahead from “two executives” after losing a Test match to South Africa in late 2016 in Hobart, according to Erskine.
Then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy Warner were slapped with one-year bans for their role in the 2018 incident while opener Cameron Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension.
Warner was singled out as the orchestrator of the incident that took place in March in Cape Town and was ruled out of leadership role for the rest of his career.
“Two senior executives were in the changing room in Hobart and basically were berating the team for losing against South Africa,” Erskine told SEN.
“Warner said, ‘We’ve got to reverse-swing the ball. The only way we can reverse-swing the ball is by tampering with it.’ And they were told to do it.”
In the Hobart Test, Australia was bundled out for 85 in the first innings, although South Africa’s Faf du Plessis was later found guilty of ball-tampering.
Even though Erskine did not directly state that the executives involved were from CA, he said, “He (Warner) has shut up, he protected Cricket Australia, he protected his fellow players, because at the end of the day no one wanted to hear any more of it and he’s got on playing cricket.”
Describing the sandpaper gate scandal as “injustice at its greatest level”, Erskine said that Warner had been “completely villainised” and “there was far more than three people involved in this thing”.
CA is yet to respond to Erskine’s allegations. The sandpaper scandal led to the resignation of then Australian coach Darren Lehmann, although he was not found guilty of any involvement.
An internal review found that CA was “partly to blame” for the ball-tampering scandal.
Not prepared to let his family be the “washing machine for cricket’s dirty laundry”, an angry Warner on Wednesday withdrew his application for revocation of lifetime leadership ban, saying the independent review panel wanted him to go through “public lynching”.
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke supported Warner and accused his country’s cricket board of double standards and making the opener the “scapegoat” in its messy handling of his captaincy ban following the scandal.