Banned Test opener Cameron Bancroft says he’s forgiven himself for his involvement in the Cape Town ball-tampering incident but believes the media scrutiny and reaction to the events in Newlands have been appropriate as he heads to Darwin to restart his cricket career.
Speaking for the first time since his emotional arrival press conference after being sent home from South Africa with a nine-month suspension, Bancroft told reporters at Perth airport this morning he’s felt sad and angry over the past six weeks and has been in constant communication with fellow suspended players Steve Smith and David Warner.
From the moment Bancroft was captured dumping sandpaper down his trousers in the afternoon session of day three of the third Test at Newlands having used the foreign object to artificially alter the condition of the ball, the media coverage of the incident and the fallout that followed was unprecedented in both scale and scrutiny.
Every corner of the globe reported the events from South Africa with seemingly every cricket pundit, past or present player, media personality or fan on social media offering an opinion on what happened and what the punishment should be for the trio involved.
But Bancroft, reflecting on how the scandal was covered, holds no resentment towards the media for their part in one of Australian cricket’s darkest periods.
"When you’re in the media a lot, good or bad, it can be really challenging to deal with, really changeling to digest the different opinion that flies around," he said.
"Because that’s what it was, there was a lot of opinion, a lot of people saying things.
"For me, in that situation, it was about me and my mistake and the poor decision I made.
"What anyone else thought or said didn’t change the fact that I made a really bad decision and I’ve had to really forgive myself for that error I made.
"It’s all a part of moving forward with it all. The media reacted appropriately to the situation and what happened and I have no anger or judgement or resentment for that."
The 25-year-old travels to the Top End to play in the Northern Territory’s Strike League and said every move he’s made since returning from South Africa has been with the goal of reclaiming his spot in the Australia Test team he worked so hard to get and was gutted to lose.
"Right now I’m feeling really good," Bancroft said. "The last couple of months have been a bit of a rollercoaster. You certainly ride the waves of grieving.
"There’s been times where I’ve felt really sad, there’s been times where I’ve felt really angry.
"But overall, I’ve worked really hard on myself, been really busy with a lot of things and right now it’s just another step forward, heading up to Darwin to play some cricket and I’m really looking forward to it."
He continued: "I can’t change what happened in South Africa and that’s something I’m completely accountable for.
"Everything since South Africa I’ve moved towards have been steps closer to one day getting back and playing cricket for Australia again."
While Bancroft heads to Darwin, Smith and Warner are on the other side of the world in Toronto playing in the inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament that kicked off this week.
Bancroft said he imagined both Smith and Warner have dealt with the same issues he has since returning home and together the three of them are helping each other get through these difficult times.
"I speak to them quite regularly, at least every week," Bancroft said.
"Whether that’s a phone call or messages, they’re obviously very busy with some things too.
"They’re two really great people and we’ve been looking after each other.
"That’s a value that we really hold closely at the WACA, is this idea of looking after your mates.
"We’ve being going through all of this together and we definitely look out for each other, that’s for sure."
Bancroft has stayed out of the spotlight following his emotional press conference at the WACA Ground upon returning home from South Africa, and says he’s tried to stay busy as he slowly moves towards his dream of once again representing his country at the highest level.
"There’s been a lot of activities that I’ve kept myself in that have really helped me to get a little bit of perspective," he said.
"I’ve been practicing a lot of yoga, I started learning a new language – I’ve learnt Spanish for six weeks.
"I’ve been doing a lot of community work, so I went up to Broome and worked the Kyle Andrews Foundation and worked with kids with cancer.
"I’ve done some work with (Perth charity) Manna at a few schools, feeding kids at a breakfast club.
"They’ve all just given me really great perspective.
"Personally, I’m my own harshest critic at the best of times. Being able to connect to these different points in the community has given me a lot of great perspective and that’s something I’ve been really grateful for.
"I love the game, I love playing cricket and as hard as it would seem to connect how learning Spanish links to playing cricket for Australia again they’re all little stepping stones to me achieving that dream again."