Former England captain Alastair Cook said Australia’s David Warner revealed to him after the Ashes series last year that he used substances attached to the strapping on his hand to alter the condition of the ball during a first-class game, according to a report in the Guardian.

Warner, along with former skipper Steve Smith, served one-year bans from the game for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that unfolded in Cape Town last year. The duo, since their return, took no time to revert back to their run-scoring ways.

Warner, despite experiencing a lean run of form in the ongoing Ashes, had a superb Indian Premier League campaign and was the second highest run-getter in the World Cup. Smith has had an incredible Ashes campaign so far, and has been instrumental in the Aussies retaining the Ashes for the first time in England since 2001.

Cook said that Warner, while celebrating his side’s resounding Ashes win at home in 2017-’18, had inadvertently revealed that he had tried to alter the condition of the ball during a first-class game.

“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,” Cook has written in his autobiography.

“I looked at Steve Smith who shot a glance that said: ‘Ooh, you shouldn’t have said that.”

“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.”

‘Smith operating at a different level’

Cook, though, had words of praise for the “phenomenal” Smith, who has quickly dislodged Virat Kohli at the top of the Test batsman rankings after scoring a staggering 671 runs from just five innings at an average of 134.20. The former opener compared the 30-year-old to the great Don Bradman.

“He doesn’t look like he’s one of the best ever,” Cook said of Smith’s unorthodox, twitchy style. “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 added, “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 coordination, 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.”