Bowlers release statement about ball tampering plot
Australia's four bowlers from the 2018 Newlands Test re-affirm that they had no prior knowledge of the plot to tamper with the ball
18 May 2021, 05:48 PM AEST
Australia's four Test bowlers have again denied any prior knowledge of the plot to use sandpaper on the ball during the 2018 Newlands Test and called for "an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo" surrounding them.
Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Starc and Nathan Lyon - Australia's four bowlers during the infamous Cape Town Test - released a statement on Tuesday evening re-affirming that they knew nothing of the plot to tamper with the ball until it was publicly brought to light.
It comes as former Test opener Cameron Bancroft, who was found guilty of tampering with the ball and banned for nine months, told Cricket Australia (CA) that he has no new information about the scandal for them to investigate.
The full statement from the four bowlers read:
"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.
"None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened.
"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.
"We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo.
"It has gone on too long and it is time to move on."
The circumstances of the scandal have again made headlines this week, more than three years after the event, after Bancroft was asked about it during an interview in England.
When asked by The Guardian's Donald McCrae whether Australia's bowlers had knowledge of the plot before it was carried out, Bancroft reportedly replied: "Yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it's pretty probably self-explanatory".
CA has long held the view that the incident could be re-investigated if new information comes to light, and its integrity unit reached out to Bancroft this week after his comments.
CA's interim CEO, Nick Hockley, confirmed on Tuesday that Bancroft had replied that he has no new evidence to present.
"Our integrity unit reached out to Cam off the back of the media report and asked him directly whether he had any new information since the original investigation, and he's come back and confirmed overnight that he has no new information," Hockley told cricket.com.au.
"So we thank Cam for confirming that."
The statement from the bowling group comes after former Australia captain Michael Clarke, a former teammate of all four bowlers, insisted that more people outside of Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner – the three who were banned following the incident – must have known about the tampering plot.
"A team like that, at the highest level, when the ball is such an important part of the game … I don't think anybody is surprised that more than three people knew about it," Clarke said on his Sydney radio program.
"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."