Everybody has paid their price.
Everybody has paid their price.

Legends’ doomsday sandpaper suspicions

ON the same day former captain Steve Smith made his high-profile return to elite cricket in the Indian Premier League, Aussie cricket legends have shared their damning suspicions about what really went on during the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.

Former Aussie captains Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell have shared their personal opinions that the Aussie cricket team were likely running a systematic ball-manipulating operation for much longer than the one-off case that Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft confessed to perpetrating.

In short, Chappell, Taylor and fellow Aussie test great Ian Healy believe the ball-tampering scandal was much more grievous than what Cricket Australia's integrity unit investigation report found.

The report into the ball-tampering scandal, compiled by former Cricket Australia head of integrity Iain Roy, focused only on the Cape Town case.

Cricket Australia has never looked beyond Cape Town to examine if ball-tampering ever extended beyond Smith, Warner and Bancroft in South Africa.

Smith said at the time: "I can promise you this is the first time it's happened".

Australia’s legends have some alarming concerns.
Australia’s legends have some alarming concerns.

Healy now says that's probably rubbish.

"They'd certainly been doing it for some time," Healy said on the 12 month-anniversary of the great scandal that resulted in 12-month bans for Smith and Warner.

"A lot of them got lucky in an inquiry that was very specific to this incident."

Former Cricket Australia board member Taylor said ball management at the Test cricket-level has become common-place with every team desperately trying to discover dark arts that will allow them to get the ball reverse swinging early in innings.

He said Cricket Australia's failure to investigate any potential previous cases of ball tampering means the accusations against the Aussie players can never be completely dismissed.

"There was no probe into finding out how long it had been going on for," Taylor said.

"Was this the first time? There's no doubt this 'ball management' has been going on for a long time, and I dare say every country is either doing it or working out how to do it, but there's a line somewhere between ball management and ball tampering.

"The grey area in all of this is how much of this ball management in the past was tampering and went unnoticed."

Steve Smith is only just on his way back now.
Steve Smith is only just on his way back now.

Chappell said he suspects Cricket Australia chose to ignore calls for a widespread investigation in order to focus on Warner.

"That probe was pretty specific and it almost sounded to me like they were after Warner anyhow," Chappell said.

"If it was going to be a proper probe it would have been far more wide-reaching."

Sensational reports at the time suggested Warner had fallen out with teammates over incredible suspicions within the Aussie dressing room that Warner was behind a news story that alleged the entire team knew about the plan to tamper with the ball.

Warner and Smith have publicly since then said they will not have any issues being teammates again and were earlier this month welcomed back into the team by coach Justin Langer.

It appeared Warner's international career could be over in the immediate aftermath of the Newlands nightmare, which left both CA bigwigs and teammates furious.

But national coach Langer, Test captain Tim Paine and ODI skipper Aaron Finch have all recently indicated the hard-hitting opener will be welcomed back with open arms.

Warner is likely to be part of Australia's World Cup and Ashes defence in England this year.