Earlier this week, four Australian bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, issued a joint statement claiming they were not aware of ball-tampering incident that shocked the cricketing world in 2018.
“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’ group said, as quoted by cricket.com.au.
This statement came after Cameron Bancroft, who was caught tampering with the ball on the big screen in a Cape Town Test against South Africa, recently gave hints that the bowlers were conscious of the whole issue.
“Yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory,” Bancroft had told Guardian. After the incident, the Aussie batter was handed a nine-month suspension while the then skipper Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were slapped with a 12-month ban each by Cricket Australia (CA).
Amid all this, former South Africa pacer Fanie de Villiers has asserted the entire Aussie team and the coaching staff would have known about the plan. De Villiers, who was on air during the game, said he alerted the TV crew who caught Bancroft using sandpaper on the ball. De Villiers said it was not possible that bowlers were unaware as they regularly pick the ball, and even a little change catches the eyes quickly.
“It’s absolutely impossible for bowlers not to know what’s going on the ball because you are the person that scrutinises it, you are the person that’s looking at it, you are the person that’s cleaning it, you are the person that knows exactly that one side looks this way because of looking after (the ball) and the other side doesn’t look a specific way because of the grass on the wicket. So it’s absolutely nonsense,” De Villiers told The Indian Express.
The former Proteas seamer further asserted that the whole Australian team knew what was going on, but only a few people were made the culprit.
“I think from the start, it was obvious that they knew, and from the start, the Australian system didn’t handle it properly. They should have handled it differently, and they tried to cover everything by just making two (three actually) people the culprits. It was a combined effort… The coach knew; everybody knows in a system because you don’t hide these things in the team firstly, and secondly, it’s impossible for a bowler not to know because he can see the difference,” added De Villiers.
The 56-year-old also explained how he got the impression that something wrong was taking place in the contest. He said the cricket ball generally reverses on a grassy track around the 40-50th over, but it started revering after 20 overs which triggered him to alert the TV crew.
“The ball reverses early because of the (barren) wicket. If the wicket has got grass on, the ball reverses late; in the 40th-50th over, if at all. So the scuffing of the ball – it was a grassy pitch – and you don’t get the ball reversing after 20-odd overs. It doesn’t happen in South Africa. That prompted me (to alert the TV cameramen),” De Villiers added further.