Australia’s Great Shame: Smith, Bancroft admit to ball-tampering


Australia captain Steve Smith has admitted that he and his team tried to change the condition of the ball during the second day of the third Test at Newlands on Saturday.

Opener Cameron Bancroft was seen in TV footage to rub an object on the ball during the second session of play on Saturday.

In the shining action, Bancroft appears to rub the rough side of the ball with his hand before shining the other side on the leg of his trousers.

He then appears to put something back into his pocket. The footage was shown on the big screen at Newlands and the on-field umpires immediately spoke to Bancroft.

In an explosive press conference after the day’s play, which Smith and Bancroft attended, the Aussie skipper admitted that they tried to use sticky tape to alter the condition of the ball.

Smith said that he, together with the team’s leadership group, which includes vice-captain David Warner and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, were involved in the decision.

The skipper made it clear that coach Darren Lehmann and the rest of Australia’s management played no part in the decision.

In front of packed press box, Smith said: “The leadership knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch. I am not proud of what’s happened. It is not within the spirit of the game.

“My integrity and the team’s integrity, the leadership group’s integrity has come into question and rightly so.

“It is not on. It certainly is not on. And it won’t happen again. I promise you that. The leadership group talked about it and Bangers (Bancroft) was around at the time. We spoke about it.

“We thought it was a possible way to get an advantage. Obviously it didn’t work.

“The umpires didn’t see the ball behaving or the way it looked. Poor choice. Deeply regrettable our actions.”

A crestfallen Bancroft, who is playing in only his eighth Test, said he panicked when he realised that the footage was shown on the big screen at the venue.

The 25-year-old explained: “We had a discussion during the (lunch) break, I saw an opportunity to use some tape to collect some granules from the rough patches on the wicket. And try to change the ball condition.

“It didn’t work. I guess once I was cited on the screens that I done that. I panicked quite a lot, and that obviously resulted in me shoving it down my trousers.

“I am accountable for my actions. I am not proud of what’s happened. I have to live with the consequences and the damages it does to my own reputation.”

Smith stated that he would not be stepping down as captain, even though he took full responsibility for what happened.

The Australia captain added: “I won’t consider stepping down (as captain). I still believe I am the right person to lead the team.

“I take responsibility. I take control of the ship and learn from and come back strong. I am embarrassed to be sitting here.”

By Nasri Alexander at Newlands