11/28/2022
Former Australia captain Tim Paine in his autobiography has alleged that South African cricketers were involved in ball-tampering in the Johannesburg Test which was played a few days after the Cape Town Test, which was rocked by the infamous sandpaper-gate scandal in 2018. The entire Australian cricket was hit badly by the controversy which also saw severe penalties on two top cricketers.

The fallout of the Cape Town Test, the third of the four-match series, was huge as it led to one-year bans on the then Australia captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner. Young Cameron Bancroft was also suspended for nine months by Cricket Australia for his role in the scandal.

The backlash also prompted a cultural review in Australian cricket. However, Paine – who was appointed Australia captain in the aftermath, has now claimed in his new book that the Proteas had also indulged in ball tampering in the fourth Test at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.

“I saw it happen in the fourth Test of that series,” Paine wrote in his new autobiography ‘The Paid Price.’ “Think about that. After everything that had happened in Cape Town, after all the headlines and bans and carry on.

“I was standing at the bowlers’ end in the next Test when a shot came up on the screen of a South African player at mid-off having a huge crack at the ball,” he added.

Paine was part of the Australian playing XI in Cape Town (March 22-26) and then captained the side in Johannesburg (March 30-April 03). Paine, who stepped down from Test captaincy last year, also alleged that the incident was covered up by the broadcasters.

“The television director, who had played an active role in catching out Cam (Cameron Bancroft), immediately pulled the shot off the screen. “We went to the umpires about it, which might seem a bit poor, but we’d been slaughtered and were convinced they’d been up to it since the first Test. “But the footage got lost. As it would,” Paine said.

The wicketkeeper admitted he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing on TV, denying the speculation that the dressing room was aware of the plan (of the sandpaper-gate scandal).

“Cricketers keep a lot to themselves, even in the happiest teams. Coaches and support staff do the same,” Paine wrote. “Everyone out there was shocked when they looked up on the big screen and saw Cameron Bancroft with a piece of sandpaper in his hand. I was stunned. We all were.”

The 37-year-old said that ball-tampering was commonplace in cricket adding that he had seen players “taping small pieces of sandpaper onto their fingers” in the past. Paine felt the team should have taken more responsibility and supported the trio of Smith, Bancroft and Warner in the aftermath of the scandal.

“Steve and Cam (Cameron) were alone. Things were tense and horrible. I think Davey felt abandoned and that nobody was looking out for him. “Everyone was a part of it to some degree – would it have worked out better for those three players if we had owned it as a team? I think it would have,” Paine wrote.

“On reflection, all three of them should have had more support. Maybe we could have done more as a group or organisation, not enough people put themselves in their shoes.”

(With PTI inputs)