Cricket-More than just three involved in 'Sandpaper-gate', says Warner's manager

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Ashes - Second Test - Australia v England - Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia - December 16, 2021 Australia's David Warner walks off after losing his wicket REUTERS/Morgan Sette/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -There were more people involved in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal than just David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, Warner's manager said on Thursday.

James Erskine told Australian radio that opener Warner had "protected" his team mates on his advice after 'Sandpaper-gate' erupted in South Africa in March 2018.

Warner was adjudged to have played the leading role in the scandal and was banned from elite cricket for a year and from leadership positions for life.

Smith was also banned for a year and from leadership positions for three years, while former test batsman Bancroft was given a one-year ban from leadership positions on top of a nine-month playing suspension.

Erskine told SEN radio there was more to the story.

"The truth will come out," he said.

"There's lots of people .... There's two cricketers at the time that said, 'Why don't we just put our hands up and tell the truth, they can't fire all of us.'

"That’s what’s happened.

"They all got a caning and basically David Warner was completely villainized."

Erskine said he had told Warner to keep quiet so that everyone could move on from the scandal.

"(Warner) has shut up, he has protected Cricket Australia, he has protected his fellow players on my advice, because at the end of the day no one wanted to hear any more of it and he’s got on playing cricket," he added.

Cricket Australia (CA) declined to comment.

The fresh allegations about Newlands overshadowed day one of the second test against West Indies at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, where Smith was captaining the team in regular skipper Pat Cummins's absence.

Warner sought to have his leadership ban quashed by an independent panel set up by CA but the 36-year-old withdrew his bid on Wednesday, citing concerns he would be subjected to a public trial on Newlands and did not want "further trauma and disruption" for his family and team mates.

Though CA found only Warner, Smith and Bancroft culpable after a rapid investigation in South Africa in 2018, questions as to whether other players and staff were involved or had knowledge of the ball-tampering have lingered.

Warner has kept his counsel on the affair while Smith initially told media at Newlands it was a decision by the team's "leadership group" before saying he had no part in its planning and that his personal failure was to stop it happening.

Bancroft, who was caught with a piece of sandpaper on TV while fielding at Newlands, told The Guardian last year that it was "self-explanatory" that Australia's bowlers had to be aware of the ball-tampering.

The bowlers said they had no idea a "foreign substance" had been taken onto the field until they saw the images on the big screen at the stadium.

Australia meet South Africa in Brisbane in the first of three tests next week.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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