Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft, in an interview with The Guardian, has suggested that bowlers in the Australian team were aware of their devious ball-tampering tactics during the 2018 Cape Town Test.
Bancroft, along with Steve Smith and David Warner, was suspended by Cricket Australia in the aftermath of the ‘Sandpapergate’, where television cameras captured Bancroft using sandpaper to tamper with the ball, kicking off a domino effect that caused a major upheaval in Australian cricket.
Bancroft, who has played two Ashes Tests since the 2018 incident, having served a nine-month ban in the middle, was speaking ahead of his county stint with Durham, when he reopened the conversation about the events of March 2018.
“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part,” he said, when asked if bowlers in the team were aware of the tactics. “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 himself]. Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision.”
When asked specifically if the bowlers knew, Bancroft was quoted as replying: “Uh… yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.”
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon were Australia’s four frontline bowlers in the game.
Bancroft and captain Smith had appeared before the media after the end of play on day three, confessing that an attempt had been made to alter the condition of the ball. Smith had admitted that the ‘leadership group’ was aware of the tactics, without naming those involved. A press release by Cricket Australia later announced that Smith and vice-captain David Warner had decided to step down, while coach Darren Lehmann too resigned from his role shortly after.
According to findings from Cricket Australia’s investigation, “prior knowledge of the incident was confined to three players, Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft,” which would appear to be conflict with Bancroft recent statement.
Former CA chief executive Kevin Roberts, in 2019, had said that an anonymous ‘integrity hotline’ had been set up for any further evidence, but no reports had been made.
“We’re really serious about addressing any unresolved issues and we’re sincere in the way we’re going about that. So if there are any reports or allegations as opposed to innuendo, then we will investigate that thoroughly,” he had said.
CA has since reiterated in a statement that the investigation can be reopened if novel allegations come to light.
“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,” the statement read.
“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.”
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