Cricket

David Warner SLAMS ‘traumatic’ lifetime leadership ban saga: ‘I’m not a criminal’

A frustrated David Warner said on Monday that he was ‘not a criminal’ and everyone should have the right to appeal as Cricket Australia paved the way for his lifetime leadership ban to be lifted.

The dynamic opener and former Test vice-captain was banned from any leadership role in Australia over his part in the Cape Town ball tampering affair in 2018.

Warner and former Australia captain Steve Smith directed batter Cameron Bancroft to tamper the ball using a piece of sandpaper during the third Test match of the series against South Africa.

David Warner was banned from captaining Australia in any format of the game for his role in the Sandpaper-gate scandal back in 2018

David Warner was banned from captaining Australia in any format of the game for his role in the Sandpaper-gate scandal back in 2018 

Bancroft and Smith were also banned, with the latter suspended from captaincy roles for two years. At the time, CA insisted Warner should receive a lifetime suspension from captaincy roles.  

But under an amendment to CA’s code of conduct confirmed on Monday, he will now be able to request a review of the sanction, a move previously not permitted. 

The code of conduct changes were first raised nine months ago and Warner said it had dragged on too long.

‘It’s been drawn out, it’s traumatic for me and my family and everyone else involved in it,’ the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the 36-year-old as saying in Melbourne.

The Aussie batsman was among those banned along with Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith

The Aussie batsman was among those banned along with Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith

Cameron Bancroft (pictured) was caught applying sandpaper to the ball to try to induce reverse swing during the third Test against South Africa in 2018

Cameron Bancroft (pictured) was caught applying sandpaper to the ball to try to induce reverse swing during the third Test against South Africa in 2018

Warner and Smith were found to have been the instigators of the plot during the Test

Warner and Smith were found to have been the instigators of the plot during the Test

‘I think it’s just about being fair that at the end of the day, I’m not a criminal. You should get a right of appeal at some stage, you know.’

Warner said the fallout from the ban had been ‘very disappointing’ for him and his family and welcomed the chance to ‘put forward my case’ to CA board.

‘We haven’t needed to go back into that detail, we don’t need to relive what happened,’ he said.

‘From that perspective that’s where it’s been disappointing, but it’s good to get to where we are now today.

The 36-year-old said the leadership ban had been a traumatic experience for him

The 36-year-old said the leadership ban had been a traumatic experience for him

Smith was banned and suspended from captaincy roles for two years after the scandal, with him and Warner found to have instructed Bancroft to tamper with the ball

Smith was banned and suspended from captaincy roles for two years after the scandal, with him and Warner found to have instructed Bancroft to tamper with the ball 

‘It gives me an opportunity to ring up the integrity unit and therefore have a word to them and put forward my case of the 100 hours [community service] I did in 2018 for what happened. 

‘I’m happy to do that, we’ll have to wait to see in due course where my schedule fits to be able to do that.’

Asked whether he thought the ban was harsh, the veteran batter acknowledged a form of punishment was required but insisted being banned for life would have been too strong a response.

‘I understand that they put a ban in place, but banning someone for life I think is a bit harsh,’ he said.

Warner endured a difficult T20 World Cup as Australia were knocked out in the group stages after finishing behind New Zealand and England on net run rate

Warner endured a difficult T20 World Cup as Australia were knocked out in the group stages after finishing behind New Zealand and England on net run rate

‘So it’s just an opportunity to come out and actually, you know, show that I’m actually remorseful. I’ve done my time to get back into the Australian cricket setup.’

Under the new rule, a player must show that ‘exceptional circumstances exist to justify modifying a sanction’, including demonstrating remorse and evidence of improved behaviour.

CA said the policy ‘acknowledges that players and player support personnel are capable of genuine reform or rehabilitation’.

It added the policy is : ‘Intended to provide the player or player support personnel with an opportunity to resume their previously held positions or responsibilities in specific circumstances.’

Warner has insisted he remains committed to both ODIs and T20s and could now be captain

Warner has insisted he remains committed to both ODIs and T20s and could now be captain

The veteran batter has retained his spot at the top of the order in all three formats

The veteran batter has retained his spot at the top of the order in all three formats

Pat Cummins is currently Australia’s Test and ODI captain and Aaron Finch skipper of the T20 side.

A lifting of Warner’s ban would make him a prime candidate to take over the T20 captaincy should Finch step down, as he recently did from the 50-over format.

Warner would also be in the mix, alongside Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood and Alex Carey, to deputise for Cummins or act as his vice-captain. It could also allow him to lead his Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder.

Aaron Finch relinquished the ODI captaincy in September and could soon step down as T20 skipper following a disappointing World Cup on home soil

Aaron Finch relinquished the ODI captaincy in September and could soon step down as T20 skipper following a disappointing World Cup on home soil 

Warner was cast as the key villain in the ‘Sandpaper-gate’ ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in 2018, having conspired with then-skipper Smith and Cameron Bancroft to alter the ball during the third Test in Cape Town.

Like Warner, Smith was banned from playing for a year but his leadership sanction only lasted two years.

Both players bounced back to reclaim their place in the national side across all three formats of the game.


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