David Warner set the cricket ball tampering scandal in motion because he was enraged by South Africa‘s vulgar sledging about his wife Candice.
The star batsman devised the plan to get rookie opener Cameron Bancroft to secretly rough up the ball with sandpaper during the March 2018 test tour.
Bancroft was caught on camera, and the pair along with Australian captain Steve Smith were banned from first-class cricket for up to a year.
As the team returns to South Africa for the first time since the scandal, Daily Mail Australia can reveal the origin of one of Australian cricket’s most shameful episodes.
David Warner (left)set the cricket ball tampering scandal in motion because he was incensed by South Africa’s vulgar sledging about his wife Candice (right)
Warner arrives home to Sydney in disgrace with his wife Candice and their children after he was sent packing from the 2018 test tour of South Africa and later banned for a year
‘Warner was so angry about what they were saying that he was determined to beat them at any cost,’ a source said.
Candice Warner was on the 2018 tour with the couple’s two young children, but is not with him for the current series.
The Instagram influencer’s PR agent Roxy Jacenko denied the ball tampering scandal was the the reason Ms Warner opted to stay home in Sydney.
‘Candice has work commitments during March and first half of April and looks for to joining David in India for a month with the family following her professional commitments wrapping,’ she said.
Australia’s batting line up was particularly weak in 2018 and needed Warner and Smith to hold it up, so South Africa singled out the opener.
‘They knew Warner was a hothead, so they decided to get inside his head by sledging him about his wife. It was really disgusting stuff,’ an insider said.
Candice Warner will stay in Sydney with their children Ivy, Indi, and Isla, and not attend the South Africa series, which goes until March 7
Warner kisses his wife Candice before saying sorry for being the main instigator of the plot to cheat in the ball tampering incident
The persistent comments, of a sexual nature that are too vulgar to publish, had the desired effect of enraging Warner and throwing him off his game.
These comments were said to be worse than those made by new South African captain Quinton de Kock about Ms Warner’s infamous tryst with rugby league star Sonny Bill Williams in an airport toilet in 2007.
Warner and de Kock squared off on a staircase during the first test in Durban and teammate Usman Khawaja had to hold him back.
He described the Williams sledge as ‘vile and disgusting’ at the time, and tensions were further inflamed at the next match when the South African crowd got involved.
By the third test in Cape Town, he’d had enough and devised a plan to rough up one side of the ball to give Australia’s bowlers an advantage.
Candice Warner was on the 2018 tour with the couple’s two young children (pictured together on safari during some downtime on the tour)
Warner’s two eldest children, Ivy and Indi, watch their father play during the 2018 test tour of South Africa
In the dressing room at lunch on the third day, he instructed Bancroft – his fellow opener and tour roommate – to use a piece of sandpaper hidden in his trousers.
‘Bancroft was the most junior member of the team and looked up to Warner so it was easy for him to get Bancroft to do it,’ a source said.
‘They might have gotten away with it but Bancroft mucked it up and got caught.’
Bancroft in an interview with Fox Sports after his ban ended in December 2018 said he went along with the plan because he didn’t want to let them team down.
‘I didn’t know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued really, as simple as that,’ he said.
‘The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in… you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake.’
Bancroft was seen on TV cameras rubbing the ball with the yellow strip of sandpaper, then hiding it down his front when he realised he was sprung.
Bancroft was seen on TV cameras rubbing the ball with the yellow strip of sandpaper, then hiding it down his front when he realised he was sprung
Condemnation came thick and fast and all three players admitted to the plot at a press conference hours later.
Cricket Australia launched an investigation and sent them home after the crushing 322-run defeat, with Smith making a tearful apology to the country.
Smith admitted at the time that he knew of the plan, but a source has claimed to Daily Mail Australia that he at least didn’t know the details.
‘The first Smith heard of it was when the umpire came over and asked to see the ball,’ they said.
‘Smith was banned mostly because he showed such weak leadership in not sending them both home right away, and letting it happen on his watch.
‘[Former Australian captains] Steve Waugh and Alan Border would never have stood for that.’
Distraught Steve Smith (pictured) has issued a grovelling apology through tears as he faced a press conference after being sent back home in disgrace for his involvement in the ball tampering scandal
Warner cried during a press conference where he admitted to being the instigator of the ball tampering scandal
In his own interview, Smith appeared to downplay his involvement in the scheme to simply turning a blind eye to a suspicious discussion he saw in the dressing room.
‘I walked past something and had the opportunity to stop it, and I didn’t do it,’ he said.
‘That was my leadership failure. It was the potential for something to happen and it went on and happened out in the field and I had the opportunity to stop it at that point.’
Sources believe that Smith will never captain Australia again and that star bowler Pat Cummins is the most likely to succeed incumbent wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
Smith and Warner were suspended from international and domestic cricket for 12 months and Bancroft for nine months, and all lost huge sponsorship deals.
Bancroft has struggled to return to the side and only played in two tests since he was reinstated, most recently last August against England.
Warner and Smith barely missed a beat upon return with Smith making 774 runs in the 2019 Ashes series, and Warner winning the Alan Border Medal last week.
Warner walks off Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg during the first T20 match of the current series on Friday night
Warner rebounded after his ban ended to win the Alan Border Medal earlier this month (pictured with Candice on the red carpet beofre the event)
Then-South African captain Faf du Plessis claimed Warner gave as good as he got, including sledging de Kock’s family and saying he had a ‘face like a bushpig’.
‘I think from both parties, from what I’ve heard, there was a lot of personal stuff being said,’ he said at the time.
Warner and de Kock last week both played down any lingering tensions and said they hadn’t spoken since 2018.
‘Obviously it’s a little bit different. I’m sure if I see him on the field and that, we’ll just treat each other how we normally would as respectful opponents,’ Warner said.
De Kock added: ‘I think me and [Warner] have moved on from there anyway. We just look to play cricket.’
Smith admitted he had unpleasant flashback upon arriving back in South Africa.
‘It wasn’t the best time in my life. But I’ve moved on from that, learned a lot over the last two years and I’m moving forward,’ he said.
‘A sad day for Australian cricket’: How the cheating scandal unfolded
The ball-tampering incident took place during the afternoon session on the third day of the Cape Town test and was picked up by TV cameras.
A small, yellow object was seen in batsman Cameron Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, the opener later revealing it to be a piece of tape covered in dirt.
He was later captured taking it from his pocket and placing it down his trousers, a few moments after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come onto the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann via walkie-talkie.
Although the two on-field umpires, Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong of England, questioned Bancroft at the time, he produced what appeared to be a black sunglasses bag from his right pocket in way of explanation, in a bid to deceive the officials.
‘Once I was sighted on the big screens I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers,’ said Bancroft.
No action was taken at the time — the umpires could have changed the ball or docked Australia runs — but match officials, including referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe, were able to review TV footage of the incident.
But after the day’s play, captain Steve Smith and Bancroft admitted the ball-tampering in a press conference.
Bancroft revealed: ‘We had a discussion during the (lunch) break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition — it didn’t work, the umpires didn’t change the ball.’
Smith continued: ‘It was a poor choice and we deeply regret our actions. The coaches weren’t involved. It was purely the leadership group who came up with this.
‘We saw this game as such an important game. We’ve seen the ball reversing through this series and this ball didn’t seem like it was going to go. It’s such poor actions. Deeply regrettable.’
Smith and vice-captain David Warner were sacked from their positions before play the next day. Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee.
Smith and Warner were banned from top level Australian cricket and from the national team for year. Bancroft was suspended for nine months.