Cameron Bancroft has brought the dormant debate about the ball-tampering scandal back to life, claiming Australia’s bowlers’ knowledge of the sandpaper plot is “self-explanatory”.
Cricket Australia (CA) and its national men’s side were plunged into crisis in 2018, when broadcast cameras captured Bancroft using sandpaper on the ball before stuffing the evidence down his pants during a Test in Cape Town.
Bancroft was issued a nine-month ban by CA for his role in the incident, while skipper Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were stripped of their leadership titles and given year-long suspensions.
CA’s formal review, conducted by former high-performance boss Pat Howard and former head of integrity Iain Roy, cleared everybody else in the touring party of any wrongdoing or knowledge of the illegal plot.
There has since been no shortage of questions about whether that was the case.
Bancroft, having joined Durham for this county season, revisited the issue during a frank interview with The Guardian.
‘What I did benefits bowlers’
“All I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part,” Bancroft said, when asked if Australia’s bowlers knew what he was doing.
“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory.”
The former Test opener, asked to clarify whether some of Australia’s bowlers knew, replied: “Yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory”.
Australia’s first-choice attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon played in that infamous match.
“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,” former CA chief executive Kevin Roberts said in 2019.
Smith and Warner have successfully returned to the upper echelon of cricket, each winning an Allan Border medal after their time in exile.
Cameron Bancroft hits a shot while batting for WA with the cricket ball ballooning up into the air above his head.
‘A door I haven’t shut’
Bancroft, dropped after playing two Ashes Tests in 2019, has not fared as well on the park.
Will Pucovski, Joe Burns, Marcus Harris and even Matthew Wade have recently been selected ahead of Bancroft at the top of Australia’s Test batting order.
“That’s a goal and a door I haven’t shut for myself,” Bancroft said, when asked about a Test recall.
“But it’s also something I’m not mentally stressing about and obsessing about either.”
Bancroft added he “lost control” of his values at Newlands.
“What had become important to me was being liked, being well valued, feeling really important to my teammates,” he said. “Like I was contributing something by using sandpaper on a cricket ball.”