Cricket

Australia vs. South Africa | Smith and Warner return to scene of ‘sandpapergate’

Under the spotlight: Steve Smith and David Warner will have a psychological barrier to surmount as they return to Newlands two years after the scandal.

Under the spotlight: Steve Smith and David Warner will have a psychological barrier to surmount as they return to Newlands two years after the scandal.   | Photo Credit: Harry Trump

Australia and South Africa meet in series-deciding T20I

Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner will return to Newlands on Wednesday, less than two years after they were central figures in one of cricket’s biggest scandals at the ground.

They will be playing in a series-deciding third Twenty20 International against South Africa in front of an expected capacity crowd where “maximum security” will be in operation to prevent any abuse of players.

Smith and Warner were captain and vice-captain of Australia on March 24, 2018 when teammate Cameron Bancroft was caught on television hiding a piece of yellow sandpaper in his trousers during the third day of the third Test.

That evening Smith and Bancroft admitted at a press conference they deliberately tried to tamper with the ball. It quickly emerged Warner was the instigator in the “leadership group” that decided on the sandpaper ploy.

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 sandpaper 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.

Nearly two years on, Smith and Warner have played in front of packed houses in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth in the first two matches of the series without being subjected to undue abuse.

“We’ve been pretty much overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from fans,” Warner said. “Port Elizabeth was outstanding. They were very respectful. I didn’t cop anything (fielding) on the fence. The kids were yelling out for autographs and we obliged. It was a great atmosphere.

“Being back in Cape Town, it is one of the most picturesque grounds in the world, the ground’s always in good condition, we’ve had success here as a team and me as an individual. I’m chomping at the bit to go out there and share it with the rest of the guys,” said Warner.

Clifford Dodgen, the Newlands stadium manager, said he did not anticipate any problems but there would be “zero tolerance” for unacceptable verbal abuse aimed at any player.

“We’ve got maximum security, with over 200 private security personnel as well as police and metro police,” said Dodgen. “We will have plainclothes people in the crowd and if there is any serious misbehaviour the people responsible will be asked to leave the ground.”

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 10:24:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/australia-vs-south-africa-smith-and-warner-return-to-scene-of-sandpapergate/article30915870.ece

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