Four of Australia’s top bowlers have come out fighting over rumours suggesting they were planning to boycott the fourth Test against South Africa if David Warner had featured as batsman back in March 2018.
The Sydney Morning Herald claimed on Friday that Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins all had the intention of pulling out of the Test if Warner wasn’t removed from the squad.
Last year, Warner was at the core of the sandpaper scandal, with many believing he was the ringleader of the plot to use sandpaper to alter the ball during the third test in Cape Town.
Rookie opener Cameron Bancroft carried out the plan whilst then-captain Steve Smith failing to stop it, but now Smith and Warner are available for selection and the four bowlers say they are focusing on “moving forward.”
Their statement issued by Cricket Australia read: “The article claims we intended to withdraw from the fourth test during last year’s tour of South Africa had David Warner been free to play,” the statement.
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“This claim is disappointing on a number of fronts but most importantly because it is false. False claims circulated in the media, such as these, which question our relationship with David are inflammatory and misleading.
"As a team we are all focused on moving forward together and helping the Australian men’s team prepare for the World Cup and the Ashes.”
Smith and Warner are expected to return to the fray for the World Cup in England this summer and they have already met up with the one-day team in Dubai this month.
The pair were eligible for the final two matches of Australia’s one-day series against Pakistan but weren’t selected; instead they are playing in the Indian Premier League.
Australia will kick off their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan at the start of June and also have a five-Test Ashes series against England to look forward to in August, starting at Edgbaston, Birmingham. It’s going to be interesting to see how the returning stars integrate with the team, to say the least.