Aussie bowlers rubbish media report
Players dismiss reports they intended to withdraw from the fourth and final Test in South Africa if David Warner played
31 March 2019, 01:43 PM AEST
Australia's bowling group have rubbished a media report they would have boycotted the Johannesburg Test a year ago if David Warner had not been suspended for his role in the ball-tampering scandal that erupted in the previous match in Cape Town.
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon took the unusual step of issuing a joint statement on Sunday to deny the claims they would have skipped a Test match in protest at Warner's presence.
Cameron Bancroft, who took sandpaper onto the field and used it in an attempt to alter the condition of the ball, and the then-Australia captain Steve Smith were censured by the ICC for the ball tampering scandal.
Warner was implicated later by a Cricket Australia investigation, and all three of those players were sent home by CA before the Johannesburg Test the next week.
That CA investigation later led to the suspension of Smith and Warner from international and top-flight domestic cricket for 12 months, and Bancroft for nine months. Part of Warner's sanction was a directive that he would never again hold a leadership position in any Australian team.
Starc missed the Johannesburg Test with injury while all of Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon played.
"We are extremely disappointed in an article which was first published across Fairfax platforms on March 29, 2019," the statement attributed to all four bowlers read.
"The article claims we intended to withdraw from the fourth Test during last year’s tour of South Africa had David Warner been free to play.
"This claim is disappointing on a number of fronts but most importantly because it is false.
"False claims circulated in the media, such as these, which question our relationship with David are inflammatory and misleading.
"As a team we are all focused on moving forward together and helping the Australian Men’s team prepare for the World Cup and the Ashes."
Bancroft returned to cricket last December with the Perth Scorchers and has since had a successful second-half of the JLT Sheffield Shield season.
The bans on Smith and Warner expired last Friday, and both are in action in the Indian Premier League for their respective franchises.
Smith and Warner are both expected to be named in Australia's 15-man World Cup squad in late April and play a part in the Ashes campaign to follow.
Both batsmen had faced the Australian bowlers at the NSW Blues training session during their suspensions.
Smith and Warner also met with Australia's ODI squad – which included Cummins and Lyon – in Dubai earlier this month ahead of the ongoing series against Pakistan.