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Explosive new claim amid ‘ugly’ Warner ‘rubbish’

By Simon Brunsdon and Brett Graham

The manager of David Warner has sensationally alleged Cricket Australia told players to tamper with the ball to make it reverse swing, more than a year before they were busted doing so in Cape Town.

And one of Warner’s former teammates has urged the governing body to “just change your decision” in the wake of the opener withdrawing his appeal against his lifetime leadership ban.

Warner, then-captain Steve Smith, and team rookie Cameron Bancroft were all punished when the latter was caught on camera using sandpaper on the ball during a Test in Cape Town in early 2018.

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Warner was handed a lifetime ban from all leadership positions in Australian cricket, which he appealed last week only to sensationally withdraw from the process on Wednesday.

Warner’s bombshell social media post on Wednesday night took aim at the independent panel appointed to hear his appeal, accusing counsel assisting of “offensive and unhelpful comments”.

Warner hits out at Cricket Australia

The opener found support from Australian legend Ian Healy, who said there was no need for the panel to conduct public hearings, arguing the process should have taken place behind closed doors.

On Thursday, Warner’s manager James Erskine went on SEN radio and launched a bold new claim directed at Cricket Australia.

“The truth will come out. There’s lots of people – there were two cricketers at the time who put their hand up and said ‘why don’t we just all tell the truth? They can’t fire all of us’,” Erskine said.

“(Cricket Australia) were in the changing room in Hobart (in late 2016) and basically were beating the team for losing against South Africa, and Warner said, ‘we’ve got to reverse swing the ball, and the only way to reverse swing the ball is basically by tampering with it’.

“So they were told to do it.”

Cricket Australia has been contacted by Wide World of Sports for comment.

Warner, Smith and Bancroft were all punished for their involvement in the sandpaper scandal in South Africa in 2018. Of the trio, Warner was the only one handed a lifetime ban.

Steve O’Keefe, who played with Warner for both New South Wales and Australia, said the whole situation was ridiculous.

“Why go through all that rubbish?” he said.

“I agree with Davey 100 per cent. I think the ban on all three of them was way too harsh to begin with.

“I don’t know why Davey was singled out, that he couldn’t be a leader.”

O’Keefe, who captained Warner at Sheffield Shield level, said there was no reason for the opener’s leadership ban not to be lifted.

“I think, given his age, given his maturity, given his growth and development, he deserves that opportunity to lead an Australian cricket team as much as anyone else,” he said.

“I think going through that whole process would be pointless. It would dredge up ugly scenes that we’ve already been through and moved past.

“There’s just no need for it. The decision was made based around public opinion at the time which was an emotional one,” he added.

“I think when we all look back on it, we understand the guys did the wrong thing and it didn’t look good, but I still think the punishment was way too harsh and Dave has every right to sit there and not want to put his family through all that again.”

Warner’s wife Candice said on Thursday morning “the pain doesn’t go away” and the process was “outrageous” and “unnecessary”.

O’Keefe said it’s time for Cricket Australia to step in, and remove Warner’s leadership ban.

“Dave’s done more than enough time and gone through more than enough hell, him and his family, to then have to relive it and wait for a decision,” he said.

“He also, out of respect for his teammates, doesn’t want to drag them through it again as well.

“It’s just dredging up old turf that the team doesn’t need and the public doesn’t want to hear. We want to be celebrating this team, not going after these witch hunts.

“We all know what happened, we’ve all moved on from it.”

“Just change your decision and let him captain Australia.”

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