David Warner’s manager, James Erskine, has suggested that the Sandpapergate trio of Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were not the only players involved in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
He also alleged that Australia were given permission to tamper with the ball during South Africa’s visit in 2016, in an explosive radio interview with SEN.
The tumultuous episode is once again a topic of discussion, with Warner pulling out of his appeal to have his leadership ban overturned, and lashing out at the review process as he did so. “I am not prepared for my family to be the washing machine for cricket’s dirty laundry,” he said in a strongly worded statement.
While Warner and Cricket Australia appear to be on the same side in the current dispute, Erskine has hinted at the emotion within the Warner camp, describing the situation as “injustice at its greatest level”. Warner was the most heavily punished of the trio, with Bancroft banned for only nine months (Smith and Warner were banned for a year) and Smith able to resume leadership roles: he is currently captaining Australia against West Indies at the Adelaide Oval.
A breakdown in the relationship between Warner and CA would bring with it the threat of revelations over the Sandpapergate scandal. Bancroft has previously suggested the bowlers knew about the plot in process – something the bowlers in the game have stringently denied – and Erskine has now suggested the same.
“There was far more than three people involved in this thing, they all got a caning and David Warner was completely villainised,” he said. “He has shut up, he protected Cricket Australia, he protected his fellow players on my advice, because at the end of the day no one wanted to hear any more of it and he’s got on playing cricket. This is injustice at its greatest level.”
The Sandpapergate scandal was not the first incident of ball-tampering controversy involving the two sides. Faf du Plessis was found guilty of ball-tampering during South Africa’s 2016 visit to Australia, with the Proteas winning 2-1 and finding reverse swing key in the first Test in particular: Australia collapsed from 158-0 to 244 all out in the first innings, squandering a strong position.
According to Erskine, Australia’s players were given permission to tamper with the ball in the second Test of the series, in which the hosts were bowled out for 85 and 161 to lose the series.
“Two senior executives were in the changing room in Hobart and basically were berating the team for losing against South Africa.” he said. “Warner said we’ve got to reverse-swing the ball. And the only way we can reverse-swing the ball is by tampering with it. And so they were told to do it.”
Cricket Australia is yet to comment on the latest allegations.