Former Australian Test captain Michael Clarke has called on Cricket Australia to address explosive claims made by David Warner’s manager James Erskine, declaring: “This thing is going nowhere”.
It comes after Erskine claimed on SEN Radio on Thursday that players were encouraged by CA officials to tamper with the ball after their loss to South Africa in the 2016 Hobart Test.
Erskine also maintained his previous allegation that more people had to have known about the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal than the three players held accountable.
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Three players who were in the Hobart dressing rooms disputed Erskine’s claims while speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Clarke though has called on CA to officially come out and address the allegations in no uncertain terms, revealing his shock at Thursday’s developments.
“What a day for cricket,” he said on Sky Sports Radio’s The Big Sports Breakfast.
“Honestly, I’ve said the last, I don’t know how long, probably since Sandpapergate has happened that I wish this thing would go away. Well, you know what, I’m going to say the opposite because yesterday is an explosion.
“This thing is going nowhere. This thing is getting out of control. This thing is getting bigger.
“I’ll tell you what, there are some nervous men waking up this morning with this comments made yesterday by David Warner’s manager James Erskine. When I saw that [news] yesterday my jaw hit the floor.”
Clarke went on to warn CA against hoping the allegations would simply go away, forecasting even more information could come out should the matter remain unaddressed.
“Where’s Cricket Australia?” he asked.
“This is the thing that needs to be clear to Cricket Australia. You cannot sweep this under the carpet and say, ‘Well, we’ve got a new board, we’ve got a new CEO’. Listen, I don’t care if you’ve got to go back to James Sutherland, pick up the phone and call him or Pat Howard or anyone else who was involved with what James Erskine is saying because you’re not sweeping this.
“You better find out what the heck has gone on. I want to know, as a past Australian captain, I want to know what is going on inside this set-up. I’m telling you now if James Erskine has that information, do you think that’s the only thing he’s got. This thing is not going away, the truth needs to be told.
“… Cricket Australia needs serious help right now. They need proper help. This is every man for themselves. It is horrible.”
It is particularly unfortunate timing for the Australian cricket team, with a Test series against South Africa starting next Saturday.
Clarke said that the Proteas would be “licking their lips”, adding that he has sympathy for Warner and the other Australian players caught up in the drama.
“South Africa will be licking their lips… look at the papers today and we’re not even talking about the Sandpapergate,” he said.
“This is in the lead-up. That is why I believe this is a big reason why Davey hasn’t gone through with this challenging the captaincy stuff, because he knows that if he says one thing that is off-script compared to what has been said, he puts his teammates in it.
“I feel for the boys that were involved as well because, more than anyone else, that team would want this to go away. The players in that Test match would want this to go away.
“While it doesn’t, you’re walking out on the field playing with that in the back of your mind thinking, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to see when we come off for lunch? What are we going to see when we come off for tea?’.
“I wonder what Davey is thinking as well. He walks out to bat while this is going on. He walks off, don’t worry about getting out for 20, he opens the newspaper or turns his phone on after the day’s play and says, ‘Here we go again’. It’s not going to end.”
It was just the latest off-field distraction that has overshadowed Australia’s second Test against the West Indies, with Warner also revealing he had withdrawn a bid to overturn his leadership ban earlier in the week.
In explaining that decision, Warner accused the review panel of wanting a “public lynching” should he have gone through with the appeal, adding he was “not prepared for my family to be the washing machine for cricket’s dirty laundry”.
Originally published as ‘My jaw hit the floor’: Michael Clarke stunned by David Warner ‘explosion’