Cricket

Ball-tampering episode: Everything said on Sandpapergate post Cameron Bancroft's new claim

It's been more than three years since the incident and the ball-tampering episode is back in the headlines. What led to the return of the infamous Cape Town Test scandal that involved Australia cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, is a new narrative that emerged out of Bancroft's recent interview given to The Guardian in which he hinted that bowlers too knew of the ball-tampering.

On being asked if bowlers were part of the Sandpapergate, Bancroft said, "...Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory. I guess one thing I learnt through the journey and being responsible is that’s where the buck stops (with Bancroft himself). Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision.”

These words reginited the fire into the three-year-old scandal that had rocked the cricketing world, leading to different bans on the three cricketers.

Bancroft, who had the sandpaper in his possession, was suspended for nine months for his role in the ball tampering plot during the Cape Town Test. AP

Bancroft, who had the sandpaper in his possession, was suspended for nine months for his role in the ball tampering plot during the Cape Town Test. AP

Immediately after Bancroft's interview, Cricket Australia's (CA)integrity unit reached out to the batsman, who was central figure in this whole scandal, to ask him for any new information. However, Bancroft cleared his stance to (CA) that he had no 'new information' related to the ball-tampering episode to help re-open the investigation.

However, by the time he cleared the air, several Australia cricketers, from past and present, had put out their comments on the new development.

The first to respond was former Australia captain Michael Clarke who bluntly said that it should not be surprising to know that bowlers knew of the ball-tampering.

"If you are playing sport at the highest level you know your tools that good it's not funny. Can you imagine that ball being thrown back to the bowler and the bowler not knowing about it? Please," Clarke had told Sky Sports radio.

David Saker, who was Australia's bowling coach on that tour, said that the the dark episode in Australian cricket will come back to haunt them every now and then.

He said, "It's like the underarm, it's never going to go away."

Former Australia wicket-keeper and batsman Adam Gilchrist pointed finger at (CA) for not taking the investigation deep into the scandal. He said, "Anyone would be naive to think people were not aware with what was going on about ball maintenance. I don't think (CA) wanted to go there. They did not want to go any deeper than that superficial example of ball-tampering."

File image of former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist. AFP

File image of former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist. AFP

Gilchrist also mentioned that thanks to the incident reverse-swing has been eradicated from world cricket, hinting at a possibility that ball-tampering existed before Cape Town as well and that not much was done to curtail it.

David Warner's manager James Erskine said that one day the whole truth around the incident will come out. He also said that the trio of Smith, Warner and Bancroft were treated 'despicably' by (CA).

He said, "The report that was done, they (CA) didn't interview all the players. The whole thing was so badly handled, it was a joke. But eventually the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will come out, and I know the whole truth."

Taking a cue from the comments of Warner's manager, England pacer Stuart Broad asked the Ausralia opener to write a book when he is done with cricket, on the whole incident.

Broad said, "I have seen a couple of comments from David Warner's agent, too, and I think it will be an interesting time when he stops playing for Australia and writes a book."

On 18 May, Australian bowlers who were part of the Cape Town Test - Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc - issued a joint statement that they were disappointed to see their honesty and integrity being questioned and that they wanted an end to 'rumour-mongering'.

The statement read, "We pride ourselves on our honesty. So it's been disappointing to see that our integrity has been questioned by some journalists and past players in recent days in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018.

"...we feel compelled to put the key facts on the record again: We did not know a foreign substance was taken onto the field to alter the condition of the ball until we saw the images on the big screen at Newlands."

Post the statement and Bancroft's back-tracking on previous claims should put an end to the episode again. But if Saker is to be believed, the Cape Town incident may still return to haunt Australian cricket.

On Wednesday, former skipper Michael Clarke was left unconvinced with the bowlers' statement and said that they probably left two people out.

"I think those guys and Cricket Australia need to remember how this conversation has been brought up...you probably should have put current teammate who was there at the time and did the crime and bowling coach who was there too. You probably left two people out," said Clarke on Sky Sports radio.

Updated Date: May 19, 2021 11:53:40 IST

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