Australian bowlers WOULD have known about sandpaper ball-tampering, says ex-captain Michael Clarke – after Cameron Bancroft hinted more players were in on the cheating that saw him, Steve Smith and David Warner shamed
- Cameron Bancroft hinted Australia’s bowlers were aware of the sandpaper ball-tampering plot during South Africa Test in March 2018
- He said it was ‘probably self-explanatory’ that other players knew about plot
- It has cast fresh suspicions on the Australian team that played in Cape Town
- Ex-captain Michael Clarke says the bowlers would have known about the plan
- Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner were only players sanctioned at time
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke has suggested it is highly likely the team’s bowlers were aware about the sandpaper ball-tampering plot.
Clarke’s comments came after Cameron Bancroft, who along with captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner was sanctioned for his role in the 2018 scandal, implied more players knew what was going on.
Bancroft said it was ‘self-explanatory’ when asked if some of an Australian attack comprising Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Marsh and Nathan Lyon were aware the state of the ball was being altered by sandpaper concealed in trouser pockets.
Cameron Bancroft’s (pictured) comments could spark new inquiry into which Australian players knew what about the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March 2018
Bancroft was caught applying sandpaper to the ball against South Africa in 2018
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke has suggested the bowlers knew what was going on
That has sparked a fresh round of speculation about who knew what about efforts to rough up one side of the ball with sandpaper during the third Test match with South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town.
Cricket Australia has invited those with fresh evidence relating to the scandal to come forward.
Clarke, whose 12-year career with Australia ended in 2015, was sceptical that the bowlers wouldn’t have known what was going on.
He told Sky Sports Radio in quotes reported by the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘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!’
David Warner, Steve Smith (right) and Bancroft (left) were all banned for cheating
Former captain Smith in tears at a press conference following the ball-tampering scandal
Clarke added: ‘I love how the articles in the paper are, “It is such a big surprise that Cameron Bancroft has made a…”
‘Actually, if you read his quotes, it is not what he did say as what he didn’t say in regards to other people knowing about “sandpapergate”.
‘What’s the surprise? That more than three people knew?
‘I don’t think anybody who has played the game of cricket, or knows a little bit about cricket, would know that in a team like that, at the highest level, when the ball is such an important part of the game.
‘I don’t think anybody is surprised that more than three people knew about it.’
During the investigation that followed South Africa’s 322-run victory, only Bancroft, who applied the sandpaper to the ball’s leather surface, plus Smith and Warner were hit with sanctions.
Warner (pictured) and Smith served one-year bans for their roles in the scandal
The senior duo served 12-month suspensions and were discounted from leadership positions within Australian teams for two years and life respectively.
Bancroft was banned from all international and domestic cricket for nine months, eventually returning in December 2018.
The scandal also led to the resignation of coach Darren Lehman a few days later.
When questioned about others’ knowledge in the Guardian interview, Bancroft, who has played only two Tests since, said: ‘Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part.
‘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 Bancroft himself]. Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision.’
Asked again if the bowlers knew, following a pause, he is reported to have replied: ‘Uh… yeah, look, I think, yeah, it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.’