Former Australian Test cricket captain Michael Clarke has called on Cricket Australia to address incredible accusations made by David Warner’s manager James Erskine, declaring ‘this thing is getting out of control’.
Erskine claimed on SEN Radio on Thursday that Australian cricket officials encouraged players to tamper with the ball after the Hobart Test loss to South Africa in 2016.
He alleged officials ‘were in the changing room in Hobart [in 2016] and basically were berating the team for losing against South Africa.’
Warner leaves the field out for 21 runs during the Second Test between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval
‘Warner said that we’ve got to reverse swing the ball and the only way we can reverse swing the ball is basically by tampering with it – and so they were told to do it.
‘I’m completely against it – I think tampering with balls is a joke, but it has gone on for centuries. Everybody has been fiddling around with balls and the penalty at the time by the ICC was a one-match ban.’
Erskine also claimed that not all the people responsible for the 2018 Sandpapergate cheating scandal in South Africa have been named.
‘You’d have to be a blind, black Labrador [to not see] there were far more than three people involved in this thing. They all got a caning and David Warner was completely villainised,’ he said.
Sky TV commentator and former Test cricket captain Michael Clarke does not believe the issue is going away anytime soon
Following Erskine’s accusations, three unnamed players who were in the sheds for the Hobart Test disputed his claims to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Cricket Australia is yet to respond to Erskine’s allegations.
However, an investigation led by the governing body’s former head of integrity Iain Roy previously concluded that only Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft had prior knowledge of Australia’s ball tampering in Cape Town.
Cricket Australia also altered its Code of Conduct following a review at its October board meeting with a new provision reading: ‘Players and support staff can now apply to have long-term sanctions modified’.
That brought Warner’s leadership ban and the Sandpapergate incident back into the spotlight, leading Clarke to call for a quick resolution.
Warner ducks a short ball while batting on day one of the Second Test Match in the series between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval
‘What a day for cricket,’ he said on Sky Sports Radio’s ‘The Big Sports Breakfast’.
‘Honestly, I’ve said the last, I don’t know how long, probably since Sandpapergate has happened that I wish this thing would go away. Well, you know what, I’m going to say the opposite because yesterday is an explosion.
‘This thing is going nowhere. This thing is getting out of control. This thing is getting bigger.
‘There are some nervous men waking up this morning with this comments made yesterday by David Warner’s manager James Erskine. When I saw that [news] yesterday, my jaw hit the floor.’
Warner is pictured breaking down during a press conference at the offices of Cricket New South Wales in Sydney following Sandpapergate
Steve Smith flanked by teammate Cameron Bancrof, speaking during a press conference in Cape Town, on March 24, 2018 as he admitted to ball-tampering
‘Where’s Cricket Australia?’ he asked.
‘This is the thing that needs to be clear to Cricket Australia. You cannot sweep this under the carpet and say, “Well, we’ve got a new board, we’ve got a new CEO”.
‘Listen, I don’t care if you’ve got to go back to James Sutherland, pick up the phone and call him or Pat Howard or anyone else who was involved with what James Erskine is saying because you’re not sweeping this [under the carpet].
‘You better find out what the heck has gone on. I want to know, as a past Australian captain, I want to know what is going on inside this set-up.
‘I’m telling you now if James Erskine has that information, do you think that’s the only thing he’s got? This thing is not going away, the truth needs to be told.
‘Cricket Australia needs serious help right now. They need proper help. This is every man for themselves. It is horrible.’
Clarke wants the issue resolved so it does not influence the three-Test series against South Africa that begins in Brisbane on December 17.
‘South Africa will be licking their lips… look at the papers today and we’re not even talking about the Sandpapergate,’ he said.
‘This is in the lead-up. That is why I believe this is a big reason why Davey hasn’t gone through with this challenging the captaincy stuff, because he knows that if he says one thing that is off-script compared to what has been said, he puts his teammates in it.
‘I feel for the boys that were involved as well because, more than anyone else, that team would want this to go away. The players in that Test match would want this to go away.’