Australia’s frontline Test bowlers have asked for an end to “rumour-mongering and innuendo” about their alleged knowledge of the ball-tampering scandal after Cameron Bancroft made it clear he has no new information.
Cricket Australia (CA) will not reopen investigations into the 2018 Cape Town cheating saga, which became a topic of hot debate after Bancroft’s comments in an interview with the Guardian.
Bancroft replied it was “self-explanatory”, when asked twice if Australia’s bowlers knew about the ploy to use sandpaper on the ball.
The former Test opener has since told CA’s integrity unit he does not have any new information beyond what he told investigators at the time in South Africa.
CA’s formal probe of the incident cleared everybody in the touring party – outside of Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner – of any wrongdoing or knowledge of the illegal plot.
Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, having all played in that infamous match, released a statement “to the Australian public” late on Tuesday via Starc’s website.
“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,” they wrote.
“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.
“We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on.”
The letter also rejected the argument, made by former Australia captain Michael Clarke and other pundits, that as bowlers they must have known because of the ball.
“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,” the four bowlers wrote.
“None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened.”
It’s understood Bancroft has contacted some teammates, knowing his words have gone down poorly.
Bancroft served a nine-month ban for wielding the weapon that plunged Australian cricket into crisis, while Smith and Warner were stripped of their leadership roles and given year-long suspensions by CA.
“We can only deal with the facts that we have and there’s nothing further that has been raised,” CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley told AAP.
“There was a thorough investigation.
“So as far as we’re concerned, that investigation was closed and the sanctions were served.”
Bancroft, who is playing county cricket with Durham, is yet to publicly clarify what he meant.
Meanwhile, it shapes a potentially spicy summer given England veteran Stuart Broad has joined Clarke and Adam Gilchrist in expressing fresh cynicism about CA’s findings.
English fans delivered near-constant reminders of Australia’s shameful chapter throughout the 2019 Ashes.
Broad, who is on track to compete in his eighth Ashes series later this year, echoed Clarke in arguing that bowlers have a forensic approach to ball management.
“There’s no doubt the Aussies would have been hoping this episode was signed, sealed and delivered,” Broad said.
The decision by the ECB to abandon their tour of Pakistan this week, on top of India’s decision to abandon the fifth Test of their series against India two weeks ago, along with New Zealand’s decision to abandon their tour of Pakistan last week has left the cricket world in a state of flux.
Teenage tearaway Darcie Brown’s record-breaking haul has lifted Australia to a nine-wicket victory over India in Mackay, where the hosts comfortably hauled in a target of 226 to secure their 25th consecutive ODI win.