David Warner made headlines on Sunday, August 21, when Big Bash League (BBL) outfit Sydney Thunder confirmed that the 35-year-old will be making a return to the league after an absence of 10 years. Warner last played in the league in 2013 but has not participated in the league since then, despite playing in other tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Sydney Thunder’s captain from last season, Usman Khawaja, left them recently to join Brisbane Heat in the BBL. With a vacant captaincy role in the team, former Australia captain David Warner should have been the obvious choice to fill in the role. However, the 35-year-old has a lifetime ban for captaining any team in Australian cricket, a punishment handed to him in the aftermath of the 2018 Sandpapergate scandal in a Test match between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town. What is the ban all about? Let’s find out.

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The Sandpapergate scandal

In March 2018, when the Australian cricket team was playing its third Test match against South Africa in Cape Town, Cameron Bancroft was caught on television camera trying to tamper with the ball. Bancroft was trying to rough up a side of the ball by rubbing it with a piece of sandpaper, which would help the Australian bowlers to swing it more.

The incident soon made headlines across the world and a subsequent investigation found Bancroft, along with Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner, guilty of the matter. Bancroft was handed a suspension of nine months, while Smith and Warner were suspended for 12 months. 

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Smith and Warner were stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy as Tim Paine and later Aaron Finch were appointed the captain of the national team. Apart from the suspension, Warner was handed a lifetime ban from captaining a team in Australian domestic cricket or the national team by Cricket Australia.

What is the lifetime captaincy ban on Warner?

Following an investigation into the incident, Cricket Australia imposed sanctions on all guilty parties, including David Warner. The body had observed that it was Warner whose idea led to the ball-tampering by Bancroft and captain Steve Smith knew about the plan.

As a result, as part of the sanctions, Cricket Australia imposed a leadership ban on both Steve Smith and David Warner. However, while Smith’s leadership ban lasted for two years, Warner was handed a lifetime ban from leadership roles. 

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According to the ban, Warner cannot lead the Australian national cricket team or any team in domestic tournaments for the entirety of his life. Similar to Bancroft and Smith, Warner tweeted to announce he had accepted Cricket Australia’s sanctions on him on August 5, 2018. 

However, in a recent interview, Warner revealed that Cricket Australia’s leadership has changed over the last few years and he would be open to speaking with the board regarding the ban if they contact him.

Warner’s lifetime ban was criticised and called harsh by many pundits and former cricketers, including Greg Chappell.