Sandpaper Gate: Australian bowlers issue statement, say ‘disappointing to see integrity questioned’

Written by Abhishek Patil

Australia pacer Mitchell Starc released a joint statement alongside teammates Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon after Cameron Bancroft hinted that the bowlers were aware of the ball-tampering tactics during the 2018 Cape Town Test.

Bancroft, who is playing county cricket in Durham, on Friday said it was ‘probably self-explanatory’ whether the bowlers were aware that the ball was being tampered with. The statement raised further questions on the investigations made by Cricket Australia (CA) on the incident. CA then issued a request to Bancroft for any information he might have on the issue.

In a response to clarify their stance, Starc, one among the four lead bowlers involved in the infamous Test, put out the statement on his 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 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.
  • The players further added: ‘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.’In March 2018, Bancroft was caught on camera trying to change the condition of the ball using sandpaper in a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. Bancroft and then Australia skipper Steve Smith admitted that they did tamper with the ball and David Warner’s involvement in the act was also confirmed.

    Australia went on to lose the match and Cricket Australia took some bold calls as it first removed Smith and Warner as the captain and vice-captain of the side before a year’s ban was slated for the duo.

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Abhishek Patil