Warner on sandpaper ‘flak’: ‘Great to go out knowing I’m not going to cop it anymore’

Australia

Cricket Australia’s review into the events of March 2018 painted Warner as the chief orchestrator of Sandpapergate, a scandal that cast a shadow over Australian cricket and led to wholesale changes within the national team’s culture and leadership.

Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban from the sport for rubbing sandpaper on the ball in Cape Town, while Warner and Steven Smith were each suspended for a year and the latter also stripped of his captaincy.

But Warner has been left to feel the longest-lasting effects of the scandal; the opening batter was banned from holding any formal leadership role in Australian cricket, the only lasting sanction from the incident.

As Australia prepare to enter the Super Eight stage at the T20 World Cup, the end of Warner’s international career is in sight; the 37-year-old will retire from T20I cricket at the end of the tournament after bowing out of Tests and ODIs last summer.

Warner reflected on his cricketing journey ahead of Australia’s clash against Bangladesh on Thursday (Friday AEST), claiming he had been left to fend for himself in the aftermath of the Newlands saga.

“Coming back since 2018 I’ve probably … been the only one that’s ever copped a lot of flak,” Warner told News Corp and cricket.com.au in Antigua. “Whether it’s people who don’t like the Australian cricket team or don’t like me, I’ve always been that person who has copped it.

“It’s fine if they want to do that, but I always feel like I’ve taken a lot of pressure off a lot of guys as well and I think understandably I’ve been that person to be able to absorb that. But one can only absorb [so much]. For me, it’s great to go out knowing I’m not going to cop it anymore.”

Warner is not naive to the fact his name will likely always be linked with the scandal. But the opener is hopeful that is not the only thing for which he will be remembered, as he eyes the chance to finish a 15-year international career as a reigning T20I World Cup, ODI World Cup and World Test champion.

“I think it’s going to be inevitable that when people talk about me in 20 or 30 years’ time, there will always be that sandpaper scandal,” he said. “But for me, if they’re real cricket tragics and they love cricket, (as well as) my closest supporters, they will always see me as that cricketer – someone who tried to change the game.

“Someone who tried to follow in the footsteps of the openers before me and try and score runs at a great tempo and change Test cricket in a way.”

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