Australia’s captain Steve Smith and rookie opener Cameron Bancroft have admitted to ball tampering in the third Test against South Africa at Newlands on Saturday.
In a shocking press conference after the day’s play, the pair faced up to the Newlands media and came clean.
Bancroft confirmed that he had been charged by the ICC after the day’s play, while Smith apologised and tried to convince those present that this was the first time it had happened under his leadership.
“I saw an opportunity to potentially use some tape to get some granules from the rough patches on the wicket and try to change the ball condition,” an emotional Bancroft said.
“It didn’t work, and the umpires obviously didn’t change the ball, but I guess once I was sighted on the screens I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers.”
Bancroft explained that the yellow tape was part of the Australian kit “connected to some padding” and that “the actual sticky stuff itself could be used to collect some stuff from the side of the pitch”.
— Baden Gillion (@BadenGillion) March 24, 2018
Smith, equally as rattled, then acknowledged that he was part of the decision to go ahead with the efforts to disrupt the ball.
“The leadership group knew about it,” he said.
“We spoke about it at lunch.
“I’m not proud of what happened. It’s not within the spirit of the game and my integrity, the team’s integrity, the leadership group’s integrity has come into question and rightfully so.
“It’s not on and it won’t happen again, I can promise you that, under my leadership.”
Smith would not, however, reveal exactly who had come up with the idea.
“I’m not naming names, but the leadership group talked about it and Bangers (Bancroft) was around at the time. We spoke about it and thought it was a possible way to get an advantage,” he said.
Smith said the situation was “deeply regrettable”, and denied that Darren Lehmann or any of the Australian coaching staff was behind the decision.
He claimed that this was the first time the Australians had resorted to ball tampering under his leadership.
“We saw this game as such an important game … we have obviously seen the ball reversing quite a lot throughout this series and our ball just didn’t look like it was going to,” he said.
“It’s such poor actions and deeply regrettable.”
Smith said he understood that there would be doubts over whether or not his side had used these tactics earlier in the series, especially given Mitchell Starc’s devastating spell of reverse swing bowling in Durban.
“You can ask questions as much as you like but I promise you this is the first time it has happened,” he said.
“We’ll move on from this and hopefully we’ll learn something from this. I’m embarrassed and I know the boys in the shed are embarrassed as well.
“I feel for Cam as well. It’s not what we want to see in the game and it’s not what Australian cricket is about. Being the leader of the team, I am incredibly sorry.”― Sport24