Australia’s Test series against India has ended in a 1-2 series defeat thanks to rain — else the Sydney Test may also have ended in defeat, making it 1-3 — but though many questions have been asked about the home team, the elephant in the room still remains.
Nobody has told the public how a team which managed to extract prodigious reverse swing during the 2017-18 Ashes series against England — played in the Australian summer — was unable to get even a fraction of that kind of swing in the series against India.
As anyone who follows the news knows, Australia was caught using sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball in March 2018 during a series against South Africa, in a bid to get it to reverse swing.
And so the question arises – were Australia using such questionable and illegal tactics to extract reverse swing against England as well?
How long has this team been using illegal methods to get the ball swinging in the opposite direction to that which is normal, in order to win Test matches.
No Australian cricket writer will raise this issue, for they are all quite nationalistic when it comes to the Australian team. Only one writer, Malcolm Knox of the Sydney Morning Herald, raised the question during the series.
On March 24 last year, Australian opener Cameron Bancroft was caught on TV, stuffing something yellow down the front of his pants, during the third Test against South Africa in Newlands.
It turned out that this was a piece of sandpaper. Captain Steve Smith came clean about the cheating during a press conference later in the day, but both and he and Bancroft appeared to think it was no big deal.
This is not surprising because the global body that governs cricket, the International Cricket Conference, only bans a player for two Tests if they are caught tampering with the ball.
But things went pear-shaped for the two Australians and the vice-captain David Warner — who was named as the man who planned the cheating — when the Australian governing body for cricket, their employer, banned Smith and Warner for a year and Bancroft for nine months.
A number of Australian officials were forced to resign thereafter. Nobody has bothered to ascertain whether any of them — including coach Darren Lehmann, a man with an unsavoury past — had any role in the ball-tampering affair.
At the start of the Boxing Day Test, Smith gave a press conference to try and spin his way back into the public’s good books. He also managed to get Vodafone to sponsor an ad where he tried to bolster his image.
Bancroft wrote an article in a newspaper, and strangely included a letter to himself.
But the Australian public still do not know the whole story about what came to be called sandpapergate. Until then, the whole Australian team must be regarded as a bunch of cheats.