Tim Paine on Australian cricket’s sandpaper-gate in Cape Town – Code

Exclusive new information from former Test wicketkeeper Tim Paine sheds new light on Australia’s sorry Sandpapergate scandal, including who knew what within the team.
Tim Paine believes the entire Australian team should have taken joint responsibility for ball tampering and regrets that three players had their careers and reputations permanently scarred.
The former Australian captain denied that others knew of the Sandpapergate plot, but has made the frank concession that “everyone was part of it to some degree.”
Two days after News Corp revealed passages from ex-South African captain Faf du Plessis’ tell-all book on Sandpapergate, Paine has released his own autobiography, The Price Paid, and expresses guilt that teammates left Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and in particular David Warner, out on their own to cop the brunt of the life-altering backlash.
“I still feel like Steve, Dave and Cam copped the brunt of it, and Boof (coach, Darren Lehmann) too, but I have wondered if there was a point where we could have said something or done something differently,” writes Paine.
“Everyone was a part of it to some degree — would it have worked out better for those three players if we had owned it as a team? I think it would have.”
Paine’s reflection that the team should have taken shared responsibility isn’t based on the specific Sandpaper incident in Cape Town, but rather that every side in world cricket had a “ball manager” like Warner whose job it was to treat the ball, purely for the overall benefit of the team.
And also the fact Smith, but particularly Warner was clearly suffering from the suffocating atmosphere of an ugly series which both teams contributed to, and which involved his wife being attacked.
In a raw, honest and at times deeply emotional book ghosted by News Corp cricket writer, Peter Lalor, Paine admits the Australian team and management effectively cut Warner, Smith and Bancroft adrift.
“… Steve and Cam were alone. Things were tense and horrible. I think Davey felt abandoned and that nobody was looking out for him,” writes Paine.
“He’d copped so much heat for his behaviour on the field and then there was what he was going through with the crowd.
“… One grub followed Dave up the race, yelling from a metre or two away after he’d just got out. I don’t know how Bull kept his cool in those situations and on reflection I feel the team let him down by not offering him more support.
“He was turning up every day as if nothing was bothering him, but that’s Dave. I can see now he was masking a lot of pain and we should have known it. I can only imagine what it was like to be going through that with your wife and little girls.
“… For a while there he cut himself off from all of us and removed himself from the team WhatsApp group and I can understand that. The personal abuse was taking its toll before this, but things had gone from bad to worse.
“On reflection all three of them should have had more support.
“Maybe we could have done more as a group or organisation, not enough people put themselves in their shoes.”
Paine said Warner had for many years taken on a selfless role for the team but is adamant Sandpapergate was not an open secret in the dressing room.
“A lot of commentators have said since that everybody has to know what’s going on in a dressing room, but that’s rubbish. Cricketers keep a lot to themselves, even in the happiest teams. Coaches and support staff do the same,” writes Paine.
“… (When Bancroft was busted on the big screen) My heart sank, I was thinking, ‘What the f—?’ A sense of dread came over us all.
“… I suspect nobody will ever be satisfied they know the full story of how we got to this place. I’m not sure I even understand myself.
“… There were bad choices made that day and it is an event which has tarnished all our reputations, but there certainly wasn’t any team meeting, saying, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ The team just knew that if we were going to get it to reverse we had to be on our toes about throwing it in on the bounce and stopping that once it started to go.
“Every team had a ball manager because somebody had to identify a side from early in the game to shine for conventional swing and then work on it through the game for when it went the other way. Nobody else was allowed to do any work on it for fear of undoing what had been achieved.
“Davey was our ball manager and he’d often say, ‘Don’t worry boys, I’ll get it going.’ And he would and everybody was rapt when he got the ball to reverse. It was his job.”
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Originally published as Tim Paine lifts lid on Australian cricket’s ball-tampering downfall and how it should have been handled
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