Steven Smith and David Warner had been reported for ball tampering in November 2016
What's the story?
Reports have emerged that Australian cricketers Steven Smith and David Warner, who have been handed a one-year ban from the sport by Cricket Australia (CA) for their role in the ball-tampering incident on Day 3 of the Newlands Test against South Africa, had previously been reported for the same offence, back in November 2016.
The match in question was the Sheffield Shield game between New South Wales and Victoria with the match referee Daryl Harper reporting the pair to Cricket Australia's match referee and umpire selection manager Simon Taufel, for their alleged role in attempting to alter the condition of the ball.
"When David Warner repeatedly bounced his returns in to (NSW wicket-keeper) Peter Nevill on the first day, the umpires appealed to Smith to support their calls for fair play," Harper reportedly wrote in the email he sent to Tauffel.
According to Harper, Smith didn't take any action to arrest Warner's actions and only when he took up the matter with NSW coach Trent Johnston did Warner abandon his ploy.
He added that Smith looked a dejected figure in the wake of his team's defeat and had also complained about the state of the Sydney Cricket Ground pitch - something unbecoming of a person who was captaining Australia at the time.
A teary-eyed Steven Smith addressed a press conference taking responsibility for the ball-tampering incident that has generated quite a furore in not just cricketing circles, but also at the international level, with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull calling for tough sanctions to be imposed against the erring individuals.
The investigation by CA into the matter saw one-year bans being handed to conspirators-in-chief Warner and Smith, for not preventing the players from indulging in the act despite being aware of it.
Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the ball-tampering, has been handed a nine-month ban as well.
The heart of the matter
While no one is denying their role in the ball-tampering incident that has brought plenty of shame to Australian cricket, many former cricketers including Shane Warne commented that the punishment handed out to the trio was too harsh.
The above report though does bring that argument into question, with CA possibly wanting to set an example with the captain and vice-captain for not adhering to the spirit of the game despite being warned previously as well.
Following the series of events in Cape Town, South African skipper Faf du Plessis had said that he suspected that Australia had been indulging in ball-tampering prior to the Cape Town Test as well, but didn't have any evidence to back his claims.
While Smith and Bancroft addressed the media upon their arrival in Australia, apologising for their actions, Warner is expected to follow suit with a press conference of his own in Sydney on Saturday.
In the wake of the latest report, it will be interesting to see whether the former Australian vice-captain has anything to say about this particular incident.
The ongoing Test series between South Africa and Australia has been a highly controversial one with the Quinton de Kock-David Warner war of words as well as the Smith-Rabada tussle on the pitch creating most of the headlines.
The events at Cape Town further aggravated the matter and CA has taken a tough stand by imposing a lengthy ban on the trio that was involved in the ball-tampering incident.
A review into the team culture is something CA has laid emphasis on following the series of events that has brought disrepute to the sport back home, and considering Harper's revelation, it might no longer be a surprise why Smith and Warner were dealt so severely with by the parent body.