Australia’s four Test bowlers have released an emotional statement in response to Cameron Bancroft’s recent comments regarding the infamous ball-tampering saga of 2018.
During an interview with The Guardian, Bancroft suggested the Australian side’s bowlers were aware of the illegal plot in Cape Town — something paceman Josh Hazlewood flatly denied three years ago.
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The 28-year-old’s comments revived speculation on whether the banned trio were unfairly treated as scapegoats for the “sandpapergate” scandal.
On Tuesday evening, the quartet of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Hazlewood released a joint statement on the matter.
“To The Australian Public. 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 have already answered questions many times on this issue, but 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
“And to those who, despite the absence of evidence, insist that ‘we must have known’ about the use of a foreign substance simply because we are bowlers, we say this: The umpires during that Test match, Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, both very respected and experienced umpires, inspected the ball after the images surfaced on the TV coverage and did not change it because there was no sign of damage.
“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. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue.
“We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo.
“It has gone on too long and it is time to move on.”
On Monday, former Test captain Michael Clarke accused CA of trying to sweep the ball-tampering saga “under the carpet”.
“They’ve got to hold the ball to bowl with it,” Clarke told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Breakfast.
“So, if there’s sandpaper being rubbed on the ball they have to get the ball back to the bowler and the bowler has to hang on to it before he lets it go.
“I can tell you now if you went and grabbed a pen, just a pen and put a little ‘1’ somewhere on my cricket bat; on top of the handle, on the edge of the bat, on the toe of the bat, on the face, under the grip, anywhere, just a little number one I would have noticed.
“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.”
Speaking on SEN’s Gilly and Goss on Monday, former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said it was only a matter of time before “names are named”.
Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of National Teams Ben Oliver said the organisation’s integrity unit had contacted Bancroft, offering him the opportunity to provide any additional details on the incident.
“There was obviously a thorough investigation,” Oliver said.
“There were actions taken on the back of that, and since that time everyone who’s been involved in the (national men’s) team has worked incredibly hard to rebuild confidence and ultimately aspire to make Australians proud of the Australian cricket team.
“We’ve maintained all the way through that if anyone has any new information relating to that incident that we encourage people to come forward and discuss that with Cricket Australia.
“In this case, our integrity team have reached out to Cam (Bancroft), extending that invitation to him if he does have any new information … or to remind him if he does have any new information in addition to what his input was into the original investigation, there is an avenue for him to do that.”
On Tuesday, CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley confirmed Bancroft had responded and said he had no extra information to provide.
“Our integrity unit reached out to Cam off the back of the media report and asked him directly whether he had any new information since the original investigation, and he’s come back and confirmed overnight that he has no new information,” Hockley told cricket.com.au.
“So we thank Cam for confirming that.”