Home Sport Australian cricket awash with drama ahead of Test series with Proteas

Australian cricket awash with drama ahead of Test series with Proteas

Johannesburg — So now it turns out – at least according to David Warner’s manager — that the Australia cricket team were told to “doctor” the ball in order to win Test matches.

James Erskine, Warner’s manager, told an Australian radio station that his client had been vilified in the aftermath of the ball-tampering saga at Newlands in 2018, but Warner was actually protecting Cricket Australia.

“Two senior executives were in the changing-room in Hobart and basically were berating the team for losing against South Africa (in 2016) and Warner said we’ve got to reverse-swing the ball. The only way we can reverse-swing the ball is by tampering with it,” Erskine told SEN radio.

“And they were told to do it.”

The ball-tampering scandal which led to Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft all receiving various sanctions has reared its head again, coincidentally days before Australia and SA face off in a three-match Test series starting in Brisbane.

Warner went public this week saying he no longer wanted to be considered for the captaincy of the Australian team. Following the sandpaper Test at Newlands and the subsequent inquiry that was done by Cricket Australia, Warner was handed a life ban from ever being made captain. A change in the Code of Conduct for Australian players that was ratified earlier this year opened the door for Warner to be considered captain.

Warner was preparing to appeal the ban, but when word reached him that the process would be made public, he said that he did not want to go through that in order to protect his family.

It has all caused a great many ructions in Australian cricket circles and weirdly Smith, who was the captain at Newlands, was back as the team’s skipper for the second Test with the West Indies that is currently taking place at the Adelaide Oval. Pat Cummins is missing the match with an injury.

Cummins too has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as former coach Justin Langer, without mentioning Cummins by name, claimed that he was a central figure in leaking information about how challenging Langer’s coaching methods were to the media. Langer referred to some of the players – one of whom was understood to be Cummins – as “cowards”.

Both Cummins and Cricket Australia have refuted Langer’s claims.

SA do appear to be the common denominator in all this – that meeting between the Cricket Australia officials and the Australia team where the players were allegedly told to “doctor” the ball took place after a defeat to the Proteas in Hobart in 2016, which wrapped up the series, the sandpaper was used in a Test with South Africa in 2018, and the whole thing is back in the public eye, with the Proteas in Australia to play a Test series for the first time since those infamous events four years ago.

“I am amazed,” Rassie van der Dussen said about all the controversy in the Australia camp. “They have their internal politics.” Then he said there might be a more cynical reason. “There is a season 2 of ‘The Test,’ so maybe there is a bit of that involved as well. Controversy sells I suppose and people want to stay relevant.”

Indeed, “The Test” — the behind the scenes, made for TV “documentary” following the Australia team around – was wildly successful when it first aired in 2020. Much of that was to do with selling a redemptive element about the team in the wake of the sandpaper saga.

“I don’t take too much interest in what they have done. Actions speak louder than words,” Van der Dussen. “There are a lot of words going around.”


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