It was two years ago on March 24 in Newlands when Australia and South Africa were involved in a tense Test match battle that is remembered largely because of the infamous ball-tampering episode that shook the entire cricketing world and left an indelible mark on Australian cricket.
Under murky skies, Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was seen changing the condition of the ball with a foreign object. He got busted quickly as the on-field umpires noticed the incident and the rest is history.
Cameron tried to divert umpires' attention by taking out the sunglass pouch. He hid the sandpaper in his trousers and was cautioned by his coach Darren Lehmann about the big mess that was going to follow.
At the end of that forgettable day's play, Steve Smith while reflecting on the game blurted out the truth alongside his partners in crime and told the media how the condition of the ball was altered with the sandpaper.
The ball wasn't doing much and in trying conditions, the players opted to violate the rules of the game. Later on, the belligerent southpaw David Warner was also found as an accomplice in the cheating act and it was he who encouraged Bancroft to proceed with the foul-play.
People on electronic media as well as social media joined the bandwagon and gave a very tough time to the trio. In a quick turn of events as pressure mounted on Cricket Australia, Steve Smith and David Warner were axed from captaincy roles and out of nowhere Tim Paine was chosen to call the shots.
“It’s a big error in judgement, but we’ll learn from it and move past it, Smith told reporters at Capetown.
Cricket Australia’s CEO James Sutherland initiated a probe into Cape Town's events and thereafter the players were found guilty of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’.
Warner and Smith were handed a 12-month ban while Bancroft got suspended for nine months. Moreover, the coach after being let down by his coachees, resigned from his post. The players broke down and cried in the press conferences, evidently ashamed of their acts.
It's safe to say that these players who were involved in the fiasco would not have liked to field in that Test as the crowd boos were relentless and they were not going to seize anytime soon. The backlash from former Australian players was pretty fierce as one should expect as they demanded hefty sanctions on the players.
Proteas handed a 322-run drubbing to the visitors in that Test and pounced on the psychological advantage. Wherever the trio went, airports or out in the public, they were welcomed by abuses and boos which made the lives of these batsmen a living hell.
Australians have always played the game with profound confidence, tremendous pride and unparalleled competitiveness but sandpapergate incident dented the team's psyche and it took some time for them to recover from the jolt.
Warner and Smith, as expected, didn't take long to return to form in 2019 when they made a comeback in the ICC 2019 ODI World Cup.
While Smith was virtually impossible to dismiss in the famous Ashes brawl and he scored heaps of runs in that series, Warner became Stuart Broad's bunny and struggled big time.
The swashbuckling left-hander located his mojo in the home series against Pakistan in the same year and quite effectively, both these seasoned campaigners have once again become important cogs in the team.
The former captain of Australia played a pivotal role in keeping their hands on the precious Ashes urn and it was quite an achievement to tame England at their backyard especially taking into consideration the fact that they were coming buoyed after the World Cup triumph. In addition, Australia won the Ashes outside their home for the first time since 2001.