Banned Aussie cricketer Cameron Bancroft on Wednesday opened up on the ball tampering scandal, revealing what happened inside the Australian dressing room in Cape Town before he was caught cheating.
Steve Smith and David Warner were banned for 12 months for their role in the scandal while Bancroft was suspended for nine months after he admitted to roughing up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.
In an exclusive interview with former Aussie wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist that aired on Fox Cricket during the lunch break on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test, Bancroft revealed how he was coerced into cheating by Warner because he desperately wanted to feel valued within the team.
“Dave (Warner) suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in in the game and I didn’t know any better,” Bancroft told Gilchrist.
“I didn’t know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued, really — as simple as that.
“The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in … you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake.”
Despite Warner being in the instigator, Bancroft — who had played just eight Test matches when he tampered with the ball — refused to blame anyone else and took full responsibility for his actions.
The opening batsman mentioned what a tough spot he was in when he said he would have felt just as bad had he refused to ball tamper because he’d feel like he was letting the team down by not helping it gain an advantage.
“I would have gone to bed and I would have felt like I had let everybody down. I would have felt like I had let the team down. I would have left like I had hurt our chances to win the game of cricket,” Bancroft said.
“I take no other responsibility but the responsibility I have on myself and my own actions because I am not a victim. I had a choice and I made a massive mistake and that is what is in my control.”
The tampering saga led to lengthy bans for the cricketers involved and resignations at the administration level, before a cultural review squared the blame on the board for creating a culture of ‘winning without counting costs’. Despite the harsh truths presented in the review, Bancroft felt it presented Cricket Australia with an ‘amazing opportunity to do something about it’.
“The reason why it was painful is because the truth hurts. Maybe in that review there was some truths that were pretty hard to accept. What does that bring? It brings an amazing opportunity to do something about it. Only Cricket Australia will know if they are being true to themselves, to be able to own up to some of those recommendations.
“If they can look at themselves in the mirror and be really content and be really peaceful, and proud of the direction they’re going, that’s OK. If they aren’t, like me, that value will always come undone won’t it? It will present itself in the face to you and you’ll have to learn another lesson,” Bancroft added.
The 26-year-old last week admitted he nearly walked away from the game to become a yoga teacher in the wake of the vitriol that met the tampering scandal.
He is expected to make his return for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League (BBL) on Sunday.