Steve Smith and David Warner were expected to have a rough reception when they arrived in England. The duo was banned for one year by Cricket Australia following the ball-tampering scandal during the Newlands Test versus South Africa in March 2018. The ban ended during the Pakistan series which Australia won 0-5 and in that period, Smith and Warner were plying their trades in several Twenty20 franchise leagues around the world. Warner was the leading run-getter in the 2019 Indian Premier League while Smith showed his class in the three warm-up games against New Zealand in Brisbane and in the clash against West Indies.
Smith, who had blasted 22, 89*, 91* in the three games against New Zealand and also smashed 76 against West Indies in Southampton, responded in grand style to the taunts of cheat by fans with a grand century as Australia defeated England by 12 runs in the warm-up game ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at the Rose Bowl. Warner, who was also booed during his stay at the crease, contributed with a solid 43 and some solid contributions helped Australia reach 297/9.
In response, England was plagued with injuries to Jofra Archer, Eoin Morgan and Mark Wood and at one point, their fielding coach Paul Collingwood had to come onto the field and take up duties. James Vince and Jos Buttler smashed fifties but Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson took two wickets as England fell short.
Monty Panesar ball-tampering
The chants of ‘cheat’ on Smith and the booing of Warner comes at an interesting point in time for England and their cricket fans. Recently, Monty Panesar, the England left-arm spinner who was part of the 2009 Ashes triumph, has admitted in his autobiography Full Monty that England’s bowlers used mint, sunscreen and even the trouser zip to alter the condition of the ball.
“We found that mints and sun cream had an effect on the saliva, and that helped the ball to reverse. I might also have 'accidentally' caught the ball on the zip of my trouser pocket to rough it up a little. That was probably a hairline fracture of the spirit of the game, even if the laws said you were allowed to 'use your uniform',” Panesar wrote in his autobiography.
With the way how Smith and Warner were treated and with Panesar’s recent revelation, the ball-tampering conundrum will only deepen in the coming months, with Australia playing England in the Ashes immediately after the World Cup.