Former England captain Alastair Cook revealed in his autobiography how Australia batsman David Warner once said to him how he used to accelerate the deterioration of the ball. Warner used substances attached to the strapping on his hand during a first-class match and revealed the incident when Cook and some other England players, shared a few beers with the Australia team after Steve Smith-led Australia’s Ashes 2017-18 series victory.
“David Warner, a couple of beers into his celebration, mentioned that he used substances attached to the strapping on his hand to accelerate the deterioration of the ball during a first-class match. I looked at Steve Smith who shot a glance that said: ‘Ooh, you shouldn’t have said that,” Alastair Cook wrote.
However, former Australia captain Steve Smith, along with David Warner were handed a year ban for the infamous ball-tampering saga in Cape Town. Cameron Bancroft who was also involved with them handed over a 9-month ban. Cook, meanwhile mentioned that the Aussies went too far with their mentality of the win at any cost.
“Stuart Broad sums it up pretty well and says they got the ball to reverse swing in that Ashes. Why change what you’ve been doing? Why suddenly use sandpaper? People know what was going on. But it’s been the best thing for Australian cricket because they realised it wasn’t acceptable. The win-at-all-costs culture they created isn’t what the Australian public needed or wanted. They’d gone too far,” he added.
In an interaction with The Guardian recently, Cook praised Steve Smith and said he is redefining himself. Steve Smith has scored 671 runs in 5 innings despite missing the third Ashes Test due to a concussion. So far he has scored 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82 to help Australia retain the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 2001.
“He doesn’t look like he’s one of the best ever,” Cook says on the style of Steve Smith, “but he’s operating on a different level. I’ve always had Lara, Ponting and Kallis as the three best batsmen I’ve ever seen. Smith  is younger than me but what he’s achieving is phenomenal. He’s redefining what is possible as a batsman. The MCC manual talks about side-on movement but Smith stands in a much more open way and still plays incredibly well.”
Cook further added that Smith is too talented and his hand-eye co-ordination is brilliant.
“He is a freak in terms of his ability to play the kind of unorthodox shot, on all-fours, he used to get to his 50 on the first day [last week]. His God-given talent, apart from his work ethic and hand-eye co-ordination, is extraordinary. He nicks the ball far less than any other player ever – maybe with the exception of Don Bradman. Smith just doesn’t miss a ball on his pads,” added Cook.