Warning — cricket post
I’m just wondering what was going through Steve Smith’s mind when David Warner came up to him and said, ‘Steve mate, is it all right if Cam takes some sandpaper on the field with him to work on the ball?’ Was Smith gelling his hair and not really paying attention? ‘Yeah yeah, whatever Dave, kinda busy right now‘. Or was he paying close attention and though it a brilliant idea? ‘Genius Dave, why has nobody ever thought of taking some sandpaper on the field with them before and just getting it out of their pocket and scratching the hell out of the ball? Why pussyfoot around with fingernails? If you’re gonna do it, go hard, or go home.”
Or were the three of them sitting around the table having a meal and pitching ideas of how you could get away with ball-tampering without being seen? Was this was the culmination of their mental efforts, the best that they could come up with after two hours of brain-storming? After razor-blade fingernails and false fingers full of acid and the belt-sander had been rejected as unworkable? ‘Let’s keep it simple,’ Warner may have said. ‘Less to go wrong with a piece of sandpaper. And it’s yellow, so it’s sort of the same colour as skin so no-one will notice it.’
(It wasn’t like Smith or Warner were under any great pressure. They wanted to win the series, sure, and they looked like they were going to lose it, but it’s not like the press was saying that heads would roll if they lost. It’s not like the English press who wanted half the side sacked after the Ashes loss. I think Warner just wanted to get one over on de Kock, and he probably thought the Saffers were cheating as well.)
And Smith clearly had no clue in that first press conference. ‘Mistakes were made, lessons will be learned, let’s move on, tomorrow’s another day when all this will be forgotten,’ seemd to be how he was thinking. He couldn’t have got that more wrong. And I swear Bancroft was still playing with that sandpaper while he was sitting there.