Cameron Bancroft urged to spill on sandpaper saga


Cricket Australia’s integrity unit has contacted Cameron Bancroft following the former Test batter’s fresh revelation on the infamous ball-tampering saga that rocked the sporting landscape three years ago.

During an interview with The Guardian, Bancroft suggested the Australian side’s bowlers were aware of the ball-tampering plot in Cape Town — something paceman Josh Hazlewood flatly denied in 2018.

The 28-year-old’s comments reopened old wounds on whether the banned trio were unfairly treated as scapegoats for the “sandpapergate” scandal.

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CA banned Bancroft from all international and domestic cricket for nine months, while captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Warner were both handed 12-month suspensions.

None of the other Australian cricketers or staff were sanctioned.

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, CA Executive General Manager of National Teams Ben Oliver said that the organisation’s integrity unit had contacted Bancroft, offering him the opportunity to provide any additional details on the incident.

“There was obviously a thorough investigation,” Oliver said.

“There were actions taken on the back of that, and since that time everyone who’s been involved in the (national men’s) team has worked incredibly hard to rebuild confidence and ultimately aspire to make Australians proud of the Australian cricket team.

“We’ve maintained all the way through that if anyone has any new information relating to that incident that we encourage people to come forward and discuss that with Cricket Australia.

“In this case, our integrity team have reached out to Cam (Bancroft), extending that invitation to him if he does have any new information … or to remind him if he does have any new information in addition to what his input was into the original investigation, there is an avenue for him to do that.”

CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley was also asked on Monday whether he had a response to Bancroft’s comments, but he bluntly replied, “No,” before abruptly ending the sixty-second media conference.

CA Head of Integrity Iain Roy and General Manager of Team Performance Pat Howard conducted a two-day investigation in March 2018 which concluded that just three players were involved in the illegal practice.

The initial investigation also found that ball-tampering had not been carried out by the national men’s team before the Cape Town match.

Roy and Howard have since left CA.

When asked if CA would investigate whether the Australian team used sandpaper on the ball at a previous match in Port Elizabeth, chief executive James Sutherland said in March 2018: “Not at this stage. But from our perspective, if there are credible allegations, and there is evidence to come to light, we have powers under our code of conduct to investigate that or any other matter.”

Meanwhile, former Australian bowling coach David Saker hinted at a sense of collective responsibility around the ball-tampering scandal in the wake of Bancroft’s damning claims.

“Obviously a lot of things went wrong at that time. The finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on,” Saker told Nine newspapers on Sunday.

“There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“The disappointing thing is it’s never going to go away. Regardless of what’s said, we all know that we made a monumental mistake. The gravity wasn’t as plain until it all came out.”

Speaking on SEN’s Gilly and Goss, former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said it was only a matter of time before “names are named”.

“It will linger forever, whether it is someone’s book or an ad hoc interview,” Gilchrist said on Monday morning.

“Eventually I think names will be named. I think there are some people who have it stored away and are ready to pull the trigger when the time is right.

“The fallout is going to linger on and on because pretty much most teams in the world were doing something with the ball in that period. It was getting out of control.

“I think Cricket Australia are responsible for why this will be continually asked. When they did their investigation at the time they had Patty Howard the high-performance general manager, Iain Roy was the integrity officer.

“They went there and did this very quick review of that isolated incident and perhaps no one in the team knew. Perhaps Cam did grab the sandpaper on his own accord and walked out there and did not tell anyone.”

While CA promised to reopen the investigation if presented with any new evidence, Gilchrist blamed the governing body for the current climate of doubt.

“There was an opportunity for CA if they were going to make such a strong statement they needed to do a more thorough investigation to work out where the root of the problem was,” Gilchrist said.

“Anyone would be naive to think people were not aware with what was going on about ball maintenance. I don’t think Cricket Australia wanted to go there. They did not want to go any deeper than that superficial example of ball-tampering.

“They did not investigate to see whether it was systemic had it been going on and on and on. Around the cricketing globe it was widely accepted a lot of teams were doing it.’’

Meanwhile, former Test captain Michael Clarke accused CA of trying to “sweep it under the carpet”.

“They’ve got to hold the ball to bowl with it,” Clarke told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Breakfast on Monday.

“So, if there’s sandpaper being rubbed on the ball they have to get the ball back to the bowler and the bowler has to hang on to it before he lets it go.

“I can tell you now if you went and grabbed a pen, just a pen and put a little ‘1’ somewhere on my cricket bat; on top of the handle, on the edge of the bat, on the toe of the bat, on the face, under the grip, anywhere, just a little number one I would have noticed.

“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.”

— with Tyson Otto & James Matthey

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