Ball sabotage approved by CA officials before Cape Town scandal, David Warner’s manager claims

In a surprising revelation, David Warner’s manager James Erskine has alleged that Cricket Australia (CA) officials allowed players to tamper with the ball more than a year before the sandpaper scandal erupted at the 2018 Cape Town Test.

According to Erskine, the players were given the green light by “two executives” after losing a test match against South Africa in Hobart in late 2016. Subsequently, skipper Steve Smith and his deputy Warner were slapped with a one-year suspension for their role in the 2018 incident, while opener Cameron Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension. Warner was chosen as the orchestrator of the March incident in Cape Town and barred from leadership roles for the rest of his career.

“Two senior executives were in the dressing room in Hobart berating the team for losing to South Africa,” Erskine told SEN.

“Warner said, ‘We have to swing the ball in reverse. ‘The only way we can turn the ball around is to mess with it.’ “And they were told to do it.”

In the Hobart Test, Australia were bowled out for 85 in the first innings, though South African Faf du Plessis was later found guilty of ball tampering. While Erskine did not directly state that the executives involved were from CA, he said: “He (Warner) kept his mouth shut, he was protecting Cricket Australia, he was protecting his fellow players…because at the end of the day nobody wanted to hear any more and he’s starting to play cricket to play.

Describing the sandpaper gate scandal as “injustice at the highest level”, Erskine said that Warner was “completely rogue” and that “there were way more than three people involved in this thing”.

CA has yet to respond to Erskine’s allegations. The sandpaper scandal led to the sacking of then Australian coach Darren Lehmann, although he was found not guilty of any involvement. An internal review found that CA was “partially responsible” for the ball-tampering scandal.

Unwilling to let his family be the “washing machine for cricket’s dirty laundry”, an angry Warner on Wednesday withdrew his application for the revocation of his lifetime leadership ban, saying the independent review panel wanted him “publicly lynched”.

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke supported Warner, accusing his country’s cricket board of using double standards and making the opener a “scapegoat” in the messy handling of his captaincy following the scandal.

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