This day that year: Sandpaper, ball tampering, lies, bans, tears and course correction
The Sandpapergate scandal rocked the cricketing world with huge names like Steve Smith and David Warner facing massive punishments for an act of ball tampering that posed a huge question mark on the future of the Australian cricket team. On March 24, 2018, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera trying to shove a yellow page-like substance after using it on the ball.
A controversy followed with skipper Steve Smith and Bancroft finally admitting to the use of sandpaper which they thought can be used to change the shape of the ball. At the press conference, Smith said that the senior team management was aware of the incident and admitted to tampering in order to make the ball swing.
Smith and David Warner were captain and vice-captain of Australia when the incident took place at Cape Town. It quickly emerged Warner was the instigator in the “leadership group” that decided on the sandpaper ploy. The incident led to widespread condemnation, including from the then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Smith and Warner were banned by governing body Cricket Australia for a year and Bancroft for nine months. Furthermore Warner was stopped from leading his country for life and Smith for a year.
The scandal came against the background of an already fractious tour in which Warner became a crowd target after an altercation with South Africa’s Quinton de Kock during the first Test in Durban.
The day before the scandal broke, Warner was abused by a spectator in the members’ stand at Newlands, leading to then-coach Darren Lehmann condemning what he said was the worst personal abuse of players they had encountered anywhere in the world.
A lot of time has passed since with both Warner and Smith making successful returns to international cricket but the shadow of the incident still lingers on the Australian cricket team and its reputation.
(With agency inputs)