Sport

Australian bowlers and Cameron Bancroft ‘clear the air’ over ball tampering

The four Australia bowlers who played in the Cape Town Test match in 2018 have been in touch with Cameron Bancroft to “clear the air” following comments made by the batsman about ball-tampering, captain Tim Paine has said.

Speaking to the Guardian last week, Bancroft was asked directly if Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan to use sandpaper on the ball in the third Test against South Africa three years ago and replied that the answer was “pretty probably self-explanatory”.

“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part. Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” Bancroft said when pressed.

Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon issued a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday denying any knowledge of the plot and calling for an end to “rumour-mongering” and “innuendo“.

“I think they’re frustrated that it keeps popping up but I think that’s part and parcel for everyone who played in that Test match,” Paine told reporters in Hobart. “Their mood was fine, I think they’ve spoken to [Bancroft], cleared the air there and I think everyone’s looking forward to moving on. We’re all grown men and those guys have made contact with each other and sorted it out.”

CA conducted an investigation into the incident in 2018 and banned Bancroft for nine months, while former captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were suspended for a year.

Speculation that other players may have been aware of what was going on at Newlands found fertile ground in Australia with former captain Michael Clarke among those chiming in on the subject.

Paine, who replaced Smith as skipper after the scandal, said Bancroft’s comment would not damage his chances of returning to the Test team once he returns from playing county cricket in England. “We don’t pick Test teams on what they say in the media,” he said. “We pick Test teams on how many runs they’re scoring … and that certainly won’t be held against him.”

Cricket Australia issued a request to Bancroft for any “new” information he might have about the incident at the weekend. “Cam has confirmed back to our integrity unit that he’s got no additional information and we’re very thankful to Cam for confirming that,” CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley said on Wednesday.