The Australian bowling unit that was part of the ‘infamous’ Cape Town Test in 2018 for the Sandpaper ball-tampering scandal involving then skipper Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft, released a joint statement reiterating their lack of knowledge of tampering with the ball using a foreign substance. The incident, which happened three years ago, made news once again after Bancroft, banned for nine months his involvement, in an interview to a leading UK daily had hinted that bowlers were also in on the act as well.
Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon were the frontline bowlers for Australia in that Test against South Africa and have, to this day, maintained their innocence.
“Uh … yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory,” Bancroft had told The Guardian on being asked twice if the bowlers knew about his actions. The 28-year-old was caught on camera using sandpaper on the ball in the third Test.
Since that interview former cricketers including Ex-Aussie international and World Cup winner Michael Clarke, former England skipper Michael Vaughan and Ian Chappell have come out questioning the bowlers’ role in the whole saga.
“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 in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018.," a a joint statement released by the quartet read.
“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,” Clarke had told Sky Sports radio on Monday.
The statement further added, " 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 at Newlands.
“So the bowlers potentially knew about the ball in Cape Town !!! Of course they did but surely that episode has been put to bed a long time ago … Let’s move on … #OnOn,” Vaughan had tweeted on Monday.
But the bowlers maintained that they were not in on it and requested to end the ‘rumour-mongering’ that had ‘gone on too long’.
“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 joint statement concluded.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
To The Australian Public
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 in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018.
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 at Newlands
And to those who, despite the absence of evidence, insist that ‘we must have known’ about the use of a foreign substance simply because we are bowlers, we say this: The umpires during that Test match, 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.
None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened.
We’ve all learned valuable lessons and we’d like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue.
We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo.
It has gone on too long and it is time to move on.
Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon