Banned Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft has named former teammate David Warner as the instigator in the ball tampering scandal in Cape Town.
Bancroft, 26, broke his silence on what happened in the Australian dressing room on the fateful day against South Africa in an interview with Adam Gilchrist on Fox Cricket on the opening day of Melbourne’s Boxing Day Test.
Making just his eighth Test appearance at the time of the third Test in March, Bancroft said he was coerced by Warner, 32, and readily agreed to use sandpaper on the ball because he wanted to “fit in” with the team ethos.
“Yeah, definitely I was asked to do it. I guess I didn’t know how to be true to myself in that moment. I didn’t have prior experience,” Bancroft said.
“Dave [Warner] suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in in the game and I didn’t know any better,” Bancroft said.
“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.”
The “really interesting thing”, Bancroft admitted, was he was under so much pressure to conform that if he’d said no to the tampering request he would have felt just as conflicted by his actions.
“I’ve asked myself this question a lot. If I had said no, what would that have meant? That’s the thing I’ve thought about.
If I actually said no and went to bed that night, I’d have the exact same problem as using the sandpaper and the ball.
“I would have felt like I’d let everybody down, like I’d let the team down. I would have felt like I had hurt our chances to win the game of cricket.”
Fox Cricket commentator and former Australian spinner Kerry O’Keeffe questioned on air if Bancroft’s admission said more about him or about the atmosphere inside the team culture.
“I think it says more about [the team], that he couldn’t say no to cheating. That atmosphere should never have been able to develop, but it obviously had.
“I can’t help but feeling it’s still hovering over the team.”
The fallout saw then captain Steve Smith, 29, and opener Warner banned for 12 months for their roles in the controversy.
Bancroft copped nine months out of the game for admitting to roughing up the ball with sandpaper in an attempt to make it swing.
His mea culpa comes as he’s due to make his return to cricket in the Big Bash League for Perth Scorchers against Hobart Hurricanes on December 30, the day after his ban ends.
“I know better now. I valued this thing called fitting in with the team. [That] led to an absolutely really destructive situation, emotionally, personally.”
While naming Warner as the instigator of the scandal that led to an investigation into the Australian team’s culture, Bancroft claimed he was responsible for his own actions.
“I’m not a victim,” he said. “I had a choice and I made a massive mistake.”
Bancroft admitted as a professional sportsman he had a “bit of an ego” and an “attachment to the identity of who you think are” when he made the fateful decision to follow the ball tampering instructions.
He said he immediately fronted the umpires and confessed after images of him being caught with sandpaper were flashed on a big screen at the ground.
“I went in and apologised. I said I was ashamed of my actions. It was something I wanted to do, to be accountable,” he said.
Afterwards, “I think I had to forget about the public for quite a while … I had to learn and discover my own value, to forgive and respect myself.”