‘Sandpapergate’ sins guarantee Aussies Smith and Warner rough return to SA

Distraught Australian cricketer Steve Smith on March 29 2018 accepted full responsibility for a ball-tampering scandal that has shaken the sport, saying he was devastated by his "big mistake".
Distraught Australian cricketer Steve Smith on March 29 2018 accepted full responsibility for a ball-tampering scandal that has shaken the sport, saying he was devastated by his "big mistake".
Image: AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS

If Ben Stokes thought he had a hard time from fans at the Wanderers‚ things could be even tougher for Steven Smith and David Warner when they hit these shores later this month.

The top-order duo have been included for next month’s limited overs tour of South Africa.

It’ll be their first outing to South Africa since their infamous double act during the “Sandpapergate” Test at Newlands in Cape Town in March 2018.

Smith‚ who was Test captain at the time‚ conspired with vice-captain Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft to alter the condition of the ball using sandpaper.

TV cameras caught them in the act and they were banned by Cricket Australia from international cricket.

The trio returned to cricket at different stages‚ but they made proper high-profile returns during last year’s Cricket World Cup.

Warner and Smith featured in the World Cup game in Manchester where the former made 122 while the latter scored seven in a game South Africa won by 10 runs.

That was in a neutral venue; away from South Africa’s baying crowds.

Australia will be playing T20Is at Newlands and Wanderers‚ grounds where the duo‚ despite their remarkable skill as batsmen‚ will be reminded of their ball tampering sin.

They were banned for the fourth Test of the 2018 series at the Wanderers where the crowd that agitated Stokes enough to get an expletive out of the flame-haired England all-rounder sorely missed them.

The ODI series will take place at the lesser international centres in Paarl‚ Bloemfontein and Potchefstroom where the crowds are expected to enjoy the cricket and focus less on the sinners.

Cape Town‚ Johannesburg and even Port Elizabeth are expected to be less forgiving.

In that exciting but equally nasty series‚ Smith had a shoulder-brushing incident with Kagiso Rabada in the second Test at St George’s Park.

Rabada was suspended for his part in the role and it needed legal intervention for him to play the ill-fated third Test.

The cricket may just be the start‚ but there’s plenty that could happen off the field.


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