On this day: Australian cricket rocked by ball-tampering scandal

Australia
Cameron Bancroft Australia South Africa 2018 PA

Cameron Bancroft found himself embroiled in a ball-tampering scandal that would rock Australian cricket on this day four years ago.

The opening batter was caught using sandpaper to alter the state of a ball during a Test in South Africa, with television pictures showing the 27-year-old running his hand over the rough side of the ball while fielding in the covers before removing a small yellow object from his pocket and putting it down the front of his trousers.

In the mayhem that ensued, captain Steve Smith reluctantly admitted Australia had deliberately tampered with the ball after Bancroft was charged by match officials.

Smith and Warner received year-long bans from the sport
Steve Smith and David Warner received year-long bans from cricket (Mike Egerton/PA)

Australian cricket rocked

The incident was labelled by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland as a “sad day for Australian cricket” and prompted widespread changes in Australian cricket, with Tim Paine installed as the national team’s skipper and Justin Langer replacing Darren Lehmann as head coach.

Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull labelled the incident a “shocking affront” to the country, adding: “This cheating is…it is a disgrace. We all know that. It is a terrible disgrace.”

Smith and vice-captain David Warner, who was later exposed as the ringleader of the decision to use sandpaper on the ball, were given year-long suspensions and banned from holding leadership positions within the team in future, with Bancroft receiving a nine-month ban.

The three players gave tearful press conferences but only Smith and Warner made successful returns to Test cricket, with Bancroft not having featured since 2019.

Bancroft has been unable to recover the form he enjoyed prior to the incident, while many believe he was made scapegoat as part of a cover up.

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