February 3, 2023

Former Australian Test cricket captain Michael Clarke has called on Cricket Australia to address the unbelievable accusations made by James Erskine, David Warner’s manager, stating that ‘this thing is getting out of hand’.

Erskine claimed on SEN Radio on Thursday that Australian cricket officials encouraged players to tamper with the ball following the Hobart Test loss to South Africa in 2016.

He claimed that officials were ‘in the dressing room in Hobart [in 2016] and were actually berating the team for losing to South Africa.’

Warner leaves the field for 21 runs during the Second Test between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval

Warner leaves the field for 21 runs during the Second Test between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval

“Warner said we have to swing the ball in reverse and the only way we can swing the ball in reverse is to mess with it – and so they were told to do it.

“I’m totally against it – I think messing with balls is a joke, but it’s been going on for ages. Everyone has been fiddling with balls and the ICC’s penalty at the time was a one match suspension.’

Erskine also claimed that not all of the people responsible for the 2018 Sandpapergate cheating scandal in South Africa have been named.

“You must be a blind black labrador [to not see] there were way more than three people involved in this thing. They were all caned and David Warner was completely villainous,” he said.

Sky TV commentator and former Test cricket captain Michael Clarke doesn't believe the problem will go away any time soon

Sky TV commentator and former Test cricket captain Michael Clarke doesn’t believe the problem will go away any time soon

Following Erskine’s allegations, three unnamed players who were in the sheds for the Hobart test challenged his claims to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Cricket Australia has yet to comment on 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 has also changed its code of conduct following a review at the October board meeting with a new provision: ‘Players and support staff can now apply to have long term sanctions changed’.

That brought the spotlight back on Warner’s leadership ban and the Sandpapergate incident, leading Clarke to call for a quick fix.

Warner ducks a short ball while batting on day one of the second test match in the Australia v West Indies series at Adelaide Oval

Warner ducks a short ball while batting on day one of the second test match in the Australia v West Indies series 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 happened, I wish this thing would go away. Well, you know what, I’m going to say the opposite because yesterday there was an explosion.

“This thing isn’t going anywhere. This thing is getting out of hand. This thing is getting bigger.

“There are some nervous men who wake up this morning to the comments made yesterday by David Warner’s manager, James Erskine. When I saw that [news] yesterday my jaw fell on the floor.’

Warner is pictured at a press conference at Cricket New South Wales offices in Sydney after Sandpapergate

Warner is pictured at a press conference at Cricket New South Wales offices in Sydney after Sandpapergate

Steve Smith, flanked by teammate Cameron Bancrof, was speaking at a press conference in Cape Town on March 24, 2018 when he admitted to tampering with the ball

Steve Smith, flanked by teammate Cameron Bancrof, was speaking at a press conference in Cape Town on March 24, 2018 when he admitted to tampering with the ball

‘Where is Cricket Australia?’ he asked.

‘This is what Cricket Australia needs to be clear. You can’t 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 have to go back to James Sutherland, pick up the phone and call him or Pat Howard or anyone else who was involved in what James Erskine says, because you’re not brushing this off. [under the carpet].

“You better find out what’s going on. I want to know, as a former Australian captain, I want to know what’s going on within this setup.

“I’m telling you now, if James Erskine has that information, do you think that’s all he has? This thing is not going away, the truth must be told.

Cricket Australia needs serious help now. They need good help. This is everyone for themselves. It’s terrible.’

Clarke wants the issue resolved so that it does not affect the three-Test series against South Africa that begins in Brisbane on December 17.

“South Africa will lick their lips…look at the papers today and we’re not even talking about the Sandpapergate,” he said.

“This is in progress. That’s why I think this is a big reason why Davey hasn’t continued to challenge for the captain’s armband, because he knows if he says one thing that’s off-script compared to what’s been said, he’s putting his teammates in it.

“I feel for the guys involved because more than anyone else that team would like this to go away. The players in that test match would like this to go away.’

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