Sir Ian Botham: I’d have banned Dave Warner for 30 years over the sandpaper ball tampering

Sir Ian Botham launching his Botham Wines range at the SCG. Supplied

  • Speaking in Sydney this week, Sir Ian Botham said he would have banned Dave Warner for 30 years over the ball-tampering scandal.
  • Warner was banned from elite cricket for a year for his role in the affair, which shocked the cricketing world.
  • “I’ve seen some dumb things in my time and I have to say that was the dumbest. It was so, so obvious,” Sir Ian said.

English cricket legend Sir Ian Botham would have handed Australian vice-captain Dave Warner a 30-year ban for his role in the South African ball-tampering scandal that brought Cricket Australia to its knees, saying the incident was the dumbest thing he’s even seen in cricket.

Speaking at the SCG yesterday to launch a new range of Australian wines under his name, which he personally helped blend, Sir Ian described the incident as “probably the darkest day in Cricket Australia’s life”.

“I just can’t get my head around it. It was so stupid,” he said.

“I’ve seen some dumb things in my time and I have to say that was the dumbest. It was so, so obvious.”

The incident was caught on camera during the Third Test against South Africa in Cape Town in March.

Team newcomer Cameron Bancroft was caught trying to hide yellow sandpaper down his pants, then subsequently lied about it at a press conference saying it was “tape”. He was subsequently banned from elite cricket for nine months.

Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Dave Warner were banned from elite cricket for a year for their roles in the incident.

A subsequent damning review of Cricket Australia identified major problems with the organisation’s culture and win-at-all-costs approach.

CA’s chairman, longstanding CEO James Sutherland, and national coach Darren Lehman all subsequently departed their roles, along with other key executives.

A recent push by the player’s union to have the bans lifted was rejected by CA’s new management.

Sir Ian said he’ll always remember listening to the commentary and the reaction.

“You can hear a couple of the Aussie boys in the commentary box down the back – and I think one of them might have been SK Warne – and all you can hear is ‘Oh no!’,” he said.

Sir Ian, who played 103 tests for England between 1977 and 1992, captained his side to an Ashes-winning series and is regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders of all time, had some sympathy for rookie player.

“Cameron Bancroft was in the wrong place at the wrong time – young player, do as you’re told,” he said.

“The captain’s the one I can’t work out. I don’t understand what Steve Smith – whether he just fell on his sword to deflect it from the other players I don’t know”.

But cricketing legend’s contempt for Warner was clear in not even referring to him by name.

“As for the other guy, I’d have given him a 30-year ban,” he said.

“If you live by the sword, you’ve got to die by the sword.”

He also had a dig at Warner for walking off the field mid-over last month while batting in a Sydney grade cricket match because he was being sledged. Warner returned two minutes later.

“You cannot give it out and when someone gives it back, you walk off the ground with the bat under your arm and have to be persuaded to come back. Weird, very weird,” Sir Ian said.

Botham went on to predict it won’t be a good summer for the Australians with India touring, said the side was “extremely good”.

“I think you’ll enjoy the series, but I don’t think you’ll enjoy the result,” he said.

Sir Ian, who turns 63 this Saturday, said he plans to retire from cricket commentary following the next Ashes series in England to concentrate on making wine for his new range.