Cameron Bancroft recently reopened the 2018 ‘Sandpapergate’ ball-tampering controversy by suggesting that the Australian bowlers were aware that sandpaper was to be used on the ball during the Cape Town Test. 

Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner were banned for varying periods for their role in the incident, while coach Darren Lehmann resigned soon after. We take a look at the latest round of the controversy that shook Australian cricket.

Bancroft’s comment:

"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 told The Guardian.

Support from Australian greats:

Former captain Michael Clarke has backed Bancroft’s view, saying that it was ‘impossible’ that only Bancroft, Warner and Smith knew about the plans to use sandpaper on the ball.

“If you know anything about the game of cricket, you know on that day, on that field, what went down, more than three people had to know about it. Impossible not to... that's why there's going to be finger-pointing until, I think until someone writes their book and tells the complete, honest truth,” Clarke told Sky Sports Radio. “I don't think Cameron Bancroft should be smashed for what he's come out and said, he's tried to say nothing but he's doing an interview."

Adam Gilchrist, the former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman, said that Cricket Australia (CA) should have done a better investigation. "Anyone would be naïve to think people were not aware with what was going on about ball maintenance. I don't think Cricket Australia wanted to go there,” Gilchrist told SEN Radio. “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.”

The bowlers’ response:

After Bancroft’s comments, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon – the Australia attack in the Newlands Test – have reiterated that they had no prior knowledge that sandpaper was going to be used on the ball.

"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,” the bowlers stated.

"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...

“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 board’s response:

Cricket Australia’s integrity unit has now reached out to Bancroft to see if he is willing to provide any additional information about the incident.

“We've maintained all the way through that if anyone had any new information relating to that incident that we've encouraged people to come forward and discuss that with our integrity unit,” said Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia's head of national teams.

“In this particular case, our integrity team have reached out to Cam (Bancroft) again extending that invitation to him if he does have any new information. We'll wait to see his response on that.”

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