England, Australia, David Warner, Alastair Cook, ball tampering
Warner was handed a suspension from international cricket for being a part of the group that altered the ball with sandpaper during a Test match against South Africa in March 2018. @ AFP

Former England captain Alastair Cook has revealed that present Australia opener David Warner had once revealed to him how he used the strapping on his hand to accelerate the deterioration of the ball during a first-class match.

Warner was handed a suspension from international cricket for being a part of the group that altered the ball with sandpaper during a Test match against South Africa in March 2018.

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“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’,” Cook, the highest run-scorer for England, was quoted as saying by ‘The Guardian’.

“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,” Cook added.

Cook, now 34 and knighted by the government, does not include Sachin Tendulkar in his top three list of all time best batsmen and considers Smith, who has been in tremendous form in this Ashes series, as a “freak” but “extraordinary” batsman.

“He (Smith) does not look like he is one of the best ever… 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 (30) is younger than me but what he is achieving is phenomenal. He’s redefining what is possible as a batsman.

“He is a freak in terms of his ability to play the kind of unorthodox shot, on all-fours…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 Sir Don Bradman. Smith just doesn’t miss a ball on his pads.”

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Cook had retired from the longest format of the game after India’s tour of England in 2018.