Cricket Australia has responded after Cameron Bancroft ripped open the wounds of Sandpapergate with a revelation about his teammates.
Cricket Australia has responded after Cameron Bancroft made the explosive claim bowlers were aware of the team’s ball-tampering in South Africa three years ago.
Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith all received lengthy suspensions when the opening batsman was caught using sandpaper on the ball during a fiery third Test in Cape Town in 2018.
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An investigation into the darkest day in Australian cricket history concluded no other members of the team were aware of the cheating, but Bancroft suggested that wasn’t the case in an explosive interview published this weekend.
At the time CA encouraged anyone with evidence or concerns about ball-tampering that weren’t exposed during the South Africa saga to come forward. The sport’s governing body confirmed to ESPN Cricinfo it was still willing to receive new information about the matter after Bancroft went public.
“CA has maintained all along that if anyone is in possession of new information in regards to the Cape Town Test of 2018, they should come forward and present it,” a CA spokesman told Cricinfo.
“The investigation conducted at the time was detailed and comprehensive. Since then, no one has presented new information to CA that casts doubt on the investigation’s findings.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Bancroft was asked if the team’s bowlers — which in that Newlands Test consisted of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon — were aware of the ball-tampering plot at the time.
“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part,” Bancroft said.
“Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory … had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision.”
Pressed again on if the bowlers knew, Bancroft responded: “Uh … yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.”
Eyebrows were raised when CA announced no other players in the team besides the banned trio knew of the ball-tampering, and Bancroft’s bombshell revelation is sure to reopen old wounds about whether he, Smith and Warner were unfairly made scapegoats.
None of the other Australian cricketers or staff were sanctioned for the incident, however, coach Darren Lehmann, high performance boss Pat Howard, and CA board director Mark Taylor all resigned in the aftermath.
Speaking on Fox Sports’ The Back Page in June 2018, Hazlewood denied he had any knowledge of the ball-tampering scheme.
“No, no,” he responded when asked if he knew of the plan.
“We obviously have ball maintenance people in the team, usually batsmen because they’re in the circle and the bowlers field fine leg, deep square — where ever it is. They just look after the ball from time to time. As soon as it stops swinging normal then it starts to reverse swing.
“We pretty much get it (the ball) at the stop of our mark, one second before we start running in. So we have a quick look, see which side’s a bit worn.”
Other players have expressed frustration at being associated with the Cape Town incident, maintaining they were as shocked as anybody to see the footage of Bancroft.
“I remember seeing what happened up on the big screen and just getting a sick feeling in my stomach and just thought, ‘Oh no, what’s going on here? What’s going to happen?’,” Cummins told cricket.com.au in 2018.
Bancroft has previously claimed Warner was the teammate who asked him to tamper with the ball.
“Dave (Warner) suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in the game and I didn’t know any better,” Bancroft told Fox Sports in December 2018.
“I didn’t know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued really, as simple as that.
“The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in … you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake.”