Sydney: Cameron Bancroft backtracked after dropping hints of other bowlers’ involvement in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal while the men in question, including top pacer Pat Cummins, claimed innocence and pleaded for an end to “rumour-mongering and Innuendo” surrounding the incident that tarred Australia’s cricketing reputation.
Bancroft kicked up a storm recently when he stated that it was “pretty self-explanatory” when asked whether other bowlers in the team knew of the plan to use a sandpaper on the ball during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in 2018. On Tuesday, a Sydney Morning Herald report, quoting sources familiar with the situation, stated that Bancroft had no fresh information to give to Cricket Australia’s integrity unit, which contacted him. CA had offered a reinvestigation after Bancroft’s interview.
The men who were caught in the storm triggered by his statement were Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, who were all part of the team during the series. They issued a joint statement to deny any knowledge of the illegal plot. “Bancroft, who is playing county cricket in the UK, had responded overnight on Monday in a conciliatory manner and indicated that he did not have significant new information to share with CA,” the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ report stated.
“Bancroft is said to have told CA he is supportive of the investigation and satisfied with the outcome,” it added. The Australian bowling attack in the Cape Town Test also comprised all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. According to the report, Bancroft also reached out to the affected bowlers in order to explain his recent comments. “…Bancroft had claimed he was left flustered by the unexpected line of questioning and that there was no malice behind his remarks.”
The joint statement issued by Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon sought closure. “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,” the statement read. “…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.”
The four bowlers said they learned valuable lessons and it is time to move on from the issue. “None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened. “We’ve all learned valuable lessons and we’d like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game.
“We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on.” The 28-year-old Bancroft was caught on camera using sandpaper on the ball in the third Test against South Africa in 2018.
Bancroft, then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were eventually banned for their roles in the scandal which led to a review of Australia’s win-at-all-cost team culture. While Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban, Smith and Warner were suspended for a year each. Head coach Darren Lehmann also resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.
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