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The Sandpaper Scandal – How Australia’s Numbers Fell Thereafter

Cricket Australia stripped Smith and Warner of their posts and banned them for a year. Bancroft was also banned for 9 months.

Nikhil Narain |March 24, 2020, 7:41 PM IST
The Sandpaper Scandal – How Australia’s Numbers Fell Thereafter

March 24, 2018, Cape Town: It was Day 3 of the third Test between hosts South Africa and Australia. With the four-match series leveled at 1-1, the visitors having conceded a 56-run first innings’ lead were desperate for a breakthrough as South Africa had lost just one wicket going into Lunch.

That’s when the ‘plot’ was hatched. Captain, Steven Smith along with vice-captain, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft used sandpaper to reverse the ball, were subsequently caught on camera and then admitted to ball tampering at the press conference at the end of the day’s play.

Cricket Australia stripped Smith and Warner of their posts and banned them for a year. Bancroft was also banned for 9 months.

Australia subsequently went into an abyss in both Test and ODI cricket.

We look at some interesting numbers of Australia’s fall in the period that followed.

492: South Africa’s margin of victory in the fourth and final Test at Johannesburg

It was the second-worst defeat (in terms of runs) for Australia and the fourth-worst ever for any team in Test cricket history. It was also the biggest defeat margin (in terms of runs) in 84 years!

3: Consecutive Test and ODI series losses

Australia lost their next series to Pakistan (1-0) in the UAE before going down 2-1 to India at home

It was the first time in the new millennium (since 1st January, 2000) that Australia had lost three Test series in a row

Australia also lost three consecutive ODI series – England (Away), South Africa and India (Home) in this period. It was only the second-time since 2000 that an Australian outfit had lost three consecutive series in the format (two or more matches; not counting World Cup and Champions Trophy).

Interestingly, the only other instance when this happened just preceded this trail – 0-2 against New Zealand Away in January 2017 followed by 4-1 drubbings against India Away and England at Home. This means that Australia had lost 6 consecutive series.

2-1: Scoreline of India’s historic Test series win Down Under

It was Australia’s first Test series loss to India at home

24.61: Australia’s Batting Average in the Test series against India

Australia’s worst batting average against any sub-continent side at home ever (three or more matches in the series)

0: Number of hundreds scored by Australia in the series against India

It was only the third time in 93 home-Test series (three or more Tests) that no Australian batsmen could register a hundred

0.2: Australia’s Win-Loss Ratio in ODI cricket from January 2017 to January 2019

Australia won just 4 and lost 20 of the 26 ODI matches they played between the 30th of Jan. 2017 to the 18th of Jan. 2019

Their win-loss ratio was the worst amongst all major teams in the world. In fact, it was even lower than Scotland and UAE!

27.77: Australia’s Batting Average in this period

Australia’s woeful batting was the major reason for their poor performance during this period. Their batting average was only marginally better than Sri Lanka and West Indies (and worse than Bangladesh and Scotland) amongst the major teams in the world.

2018: Worst Year for Australia in their ODI cricket history

Australia lost 11 of the 13 ODIs they played in the calendar year

5-0: England whitewashed Australia in June 2018

It was only Australia’s second whitewash in a 5-plus match ODI bilateral series since 2000 (in 37 such series)

242: Margin of Defeat against England in Nottingham on 19th June, 2018

It is Australia’s worst loss (in terms of runs) in their ODI history

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5211 116
2 New Zealand 3959 110
3 Australia 4320 108
4 England 5253 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6967 124
2 India 7939 118
3 New Zealand 5347 116
4 South Africa 5602 112
5 Australia 5915 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8926 270
2 Australia 7815 269
3 England 6407 267
4 India 12141 264
5 South Africa 6220 259
see more