Australia cricket great Allan Border has thrown his weight behind batting stalwart David Warner, asking Cricket Australia (CA) to lift the lifetime leadership ban imposed on the 35-year-old player for his role in the ball-tampering scandal during the away series against South Africa in 2018.
Three Australia cricketers -- the then-skipper Steve Smith, his deputy Warner and Cameron Bancroft -- were banned from playing international and domestic cricket for varying periods not exceeding a year in the aftermath of the episode, which came to be known as the 'sandpaper-gate scandal'.
The episode that happened during the Cape Town Test in 2018, not only prompted CA to ban the trio, but also barred Smith from taking up leadership role for two years, while Warner was banned from any such role for the rest of his professional life.
But since Warner has returned to the side after serving the ban, he has guided the team to victory in several campaigns, including Australia's maiden title triumph in the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE last year. He has also been at his best behaviour, prompting several present and former cricketers, including Test skipper Pat Cummins, to ask CA to lift the leadership ban on the veteran player.
Border told The West Australian on Monday that Warner's lifetime leadership ban should be lifted immediately, claiming ball tampering was rampant in cricket worldwide.
"It was a harsh penalty in the first place... let's get on with it; they've served their time," Border said in the report. "I know that every other side's doing exactly what we were caught doing. (If) all the captains put their hand on their heart and say 'I wasn't doing anything similar', they'd be telling 'porky pies' (lies).
"The bans those boys copped were a bit over the top for the crime, given the knowledge around the cricket fraternity where this has been going on. They all had to change the way they went about their cricket," said Border.
Border added that "natural" ball tampering could be permitted in cricket, as opposed to using sandpaper and metallic bottle tops.
"Reverse swing is a huge weapon to have at your disposal. On the flattest of wickets, you can still get people out. There's one line of thought that you're not allowed to touch the ball, but there's also the school of thought that you should allowed, if you get the ball in your hand... just scratching the ball and working on it over a period of time, and you get the ball reverse swinging... what's wrong with that?
"It's not a bad idea because on flat wickets you need something, otherwise the scores are just going to blow out, and that's what happens now when we start preparing result wickets, because it's very hard to get good players out on very flat tracks," added Border.