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'My jaw hit the floor': Clarke demands CA action as 'horrible' Warner claims 'getting out of control'

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9th December, 2022
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Michael Clarke says Cricket Australia must address the “jaw dropping” allegations from David Warner’s manager that CA officials encouraged players to tamper with the ball.

James Erskine told SEN Radio on Thursday that players were encouraged by CA officials to tamper with the ball after their loss to South Africa in the 2016 Hobart Test.

Erskine also said more than the three players held accountable for the Sandpapergate incident – Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith – were aware of what was happening.

“What a day for cricket,” Clarke said on Sky Sports Radio on Friday.

“I’ve said the last, I don’t know how long, probably since Sandpapergate has happened that I wish this thing would go away. Well, you know what, I’m going to say the opposite because yesterday is an explosion.

“This thing is going nowhere. This thing is getting out of control. This thing is getting bigger.

“I’ll tell you what, there are some nervous men waking up this morning with this comments made yesterday by David Warner’s manager James Erskine. When I saw that [news] yesterday my jaw hit the floor.”

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Clarke urged CA to act quickly.

“Where’s Cricket Australia?” Clarke said. “This is the thing that needs to be clear to Cricket Australia. You cannot sweep this under the carpet and say, ‘ we’ve got a new board, we’ve got a new CEO’.

“I don’t care if you’ve got to go back to James Sutherland, pick up the phone and call him or Pat Howard or anyone else who was involved with what James Erskine is saying because you’re not sweeping this.

“You better find out what the heck has gone on. I want to know, as a past Australian captain, I want to know what is going on inside this set-up. I’m telling you now if James Erskine has that information, do you think that’s the only thing he’s got. This thing is not going away, the truth needs to be told.

“Cricket Australia needs serious help right now. They need proper help. This is every man for themselves. It is horrible.”

Clarke said the blow up would be giving South Africa a boost ahead of their test in brisbane next week.

“South Africa will be licking their lips,” Clarke said.

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“This is in the lead-up. That is why I believe this is a big reason why Davey hasn’t gone through with this challenging the captaincy stuff, because he knows that if he says one thing that is off-script compared to what has been said, he puts his teammates in it.

Michael Clarke attends the state memorial service for former Australian cricketer Shane Warne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 30, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Warne died suddenly aged 52 on Friday 4 March while on holiday in Thailand. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

(Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

“I feel for the boys that were involved as well because, more than anyone else, that team would want this to go away. The players in that Test match would want this to go away.

“While it doesn’t, you’re walking out on the field playing with that in the back of your mind thinking, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to see when we come off for lunch? What are we going to see when we come off for tea?’.

“I wonder what Davey is thinking as well. He walks out to bat while this is going on. He walks off, don’t worry about getting out for 20, he opens the newspaper or turns his phone on after the day’s play and says, ‘Here we go again’. It’s not going to end.”

Erskine had told SEN: “Two senior executives were in the changing room in Hobart and basically were berating the team for losing against South Africa (in 2016) and Warner said we’ve got to reverse-swing the ball. The only way we can reverse-swing the ball is by tampering with it.

“And they were told to do it.”

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Erskine said of the test in South Africa that “you’d have to be a blind black Labrador (to think) there was far more than three people involved in this thing, they all got a canning and David Warner was completely villainised.” 

Test legend Ian Healy revealed he was in the changerooms on the day in Hobart.

“I’m a blind Black Labrador because I don’t know of anyone else (who knew),” Healy said on his SEN show.

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“That would have to be explained in any inquiry for mine. I don’t know of any other incidents that James is talking about so David has kept that well in-house, but now James has opened David’s mouth.

“That’s the bombshell that Cricket Australia didn’t want and this independent panel should have been behind closed doors sorting out.

“I went into the dressing room that day. Mark Taylor and I went from our commentary box in Hobart to the dressing room to support the boys because they’d had a real failure against South Africa and that’s where five players were chopped.

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“We went in that day and it would’ve happened that day where they were spoken to by unnamed people and said ‘we don’t pay you to do anything but win’ and that was the attitude that came out, which wasn’t good.”

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