Sandpaper escalation in Australian cricket scandal

Australia’s cricket cheating disgrace has got worse with the revelation that sandpaper was being used to tamper with the ball. The main players have been given lengthy playing bans, but there are still questions unanswered.

SMH: Sandpaper, lies and videotape: Warner fingered by CA as architect

The twists and turns have just kept coming in Australia’s ball-tampering disgrace in South Africa with Cricket Australia admitting it was sandpaper and not tape that was used and that David Warner had been the architect, even instructing Cameron Bancroft how to cheat.

As Steve Smith and Warner received 12-months bans from playing for Australia – and were banned by India from the IPL – CA released a jaw-dropping charge sheet against the sacked captain and vice-captain and opener Bancroft, who has been suspended for nine months.

That is probably a career ending ban for Warner, who was also copped a life time banned from being captain again.

Smith is younger so would have time to try to get back into international cricket and into lucrative league deals, but that won’t be easy for him. Bancroft’s career may be over just after it started.

The most stunning revelation was that it had been sandpaper, and not a piece of yellow tape, that Bancroft had used to try and alter the condition of the ball at Newlands and then hid down his pants in full view of the television cameras.

However, CA also lambasted Smith for making “misleading” public comments about the incident and confirmed Warner’s position at the heart of the scandal, banning him from ever captaining Australia.

The governing body’s investigation established that Warner had not only told Bancroft to take the sandpaper onto the ground, but had gone as far as giving Bancroft a tutorial on how to tamper with the ball.

Warner was found to have been behind the “development” of the plan and was alleged to have given “instruction to a junior player to carry out a plan to take steps to attempt to artificially alter the condition of the ball using sandpaper”.

Further, and most damningly, it was concluded that he provided “advice to a junior player regarding how a ball could be artificially altered including demonstrating how it could be done.”

Smith, who is prohibited from captaining Australia until a year after his ban expires, was also slammed for his part in the conspiracy and the attempted cover-up.

Smith was also found to have been guilty of “seeking to mislead match officials and others” about Bancroft’s conduct on the field.

At this stage coach Darren Lehmann has been cleared, and is now saying that Australia should learn from new Zealand’s approach to cricket – playing hard but fair, something Australia were known for a long time ago.

But there are still question marks.

It would be remarkable if the captain and vice captain planned to cheat by doctoring the ball without the coach’s knowledge. At the very least it suggests a corrupt culture they operated in, which is the coach’s responsibility.

It would also be remarkable that the bowlers, who would have most benefited from ball tampering, had no knowledge that they may get artificial assistance.

The big question is whether this was a one off or whether it the Australian players have done it before, and if so, how much.

Warner seems to be well practiced in tampering, and until the recent test was the player in charge of looking after the match ball. He handed that responsibility over to Bancroft for the fateful test where this all turned to yellow custard.

The culture of Australian international cricket is also in the spotlight, where a win by any means attitude has been obvious for some time (since Lehmann took over).

SNH: ‘What the f— is going on?’ The words that cleared Darren Lehmann

Cricket Australia has moved to distance Darren Lehmann from the ball-tampering crisis, saying he had radioed down to substitute Peter Hanscomb to tell him to ask “what the f— is going on” rather than to tell Cameron Bancroft that he had been sprung with a piece of sandpaper.

Lehmann said he was “confident it’s an isolated issue and a grave mistake”, although he could not be sure his team had not previously engaged such tactics.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who wonders whether the team had an arrangement where the coach effectively had a policy of ‘do what you want but don’t get caught and don’t connect me to it’.

The head coach maintained that the first time he had realised it was sandpaper that Bancroft was using – not tape as the opener had originally explained – was after the CA investigation had been completed.

While he has been cleared by CA of any responsibility for the conspiracy to cheat, Lehmann has been targeted elsewhere for overseeing a team culture that had deteriorated to the point where such reprehensible behaviour was allowed to happen.

That will be a key discussion point of an independent review of the team’s culture that has been announced.

“I’ve got no doubt that he feels some sort of personal responsibility for that,” Sutherland said.

He may well do.

11 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  March 29, 2018

    But was it Australian made sandpaper?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 29, 2018

      No, the dog licked the ball….only on one side.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 29, 2018

    Even their lies were lies!

  3. The best thing Australian cricket can do is sack the lot and start over.
    It’s a team FFS and they all knew what was going on..

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 29, 2018

    Kudos to Mitre 10 for adding a free piece of yellow sandpaper to each cricket set!

  5. Gezza

     /  March 29, 2018

    Bastards. The lot of them.

  6. David writer

     /  March 29, 2018

    Of course the coach new what was going on !!how dumb do they think the fans are ?? He has been known to make racist remarks ,overpaid cheats sack em all.

    • Blazer

       /  March 29, 2018

      It could be worse..theyare aussies,imagine if they were..Russians!