Cricket Australia has contacted Cameron Bancroft seeking new information about the 2018 ball-tampering scandal. Stuart Broad said on Monday that the pursuit of reverse swing in the England team involves everyone buying into it.
Speaking to the Guardian over the weekend, Bancroft was asked directly if Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan to use sandpaper on the ball during the Cape Town Test against South Africa three years ago and twice replied that the answer was “pretty self-explanatory”.
Now CA’s integrity unit have written to Bancroft during his stint playing county cricket as an overseas player at Durham, offering him the chance to shed fresh light on the incident that led to him receiving a nine-month ban from cricket, as well as year-long suspensions for Steve Smith and David Warner.
While Darren Lehmann resigned as head coach in the aftermath, the three players were the only members of Australia’s touring party officially sanctioned. The question of who else was complicit has lingered ever since, so too whether the use of sandpaper had occurred previously.
Speaking at the time of the incident, Broad pointedly queried why Australia had changed the methods they used to gain reverse swing during the 2017-18 Ashes just weeks earlier. And at a sponsors event on Monday, the England seamer was asked if bowlers would know whether a ball had been illegally tampered with.
He replied: “I’ve obviously never bowled within the Australian bowling attack but I can talk about how, in an England Test team, if I miss the seam by four millimetres Jimmy Anderson is on to me saying: ‘Why has this ball got a mark on it here? It’s because you’ve missed the seam: start hitting the seam, will you?’
“With reverse swing with the red ball it can be affected by so many different things. If you chase it to the boundary and throw it into the grass it can smooth the ball over and stop it reversing. If you touch the ball with wet hands it will stop it reversing. If you shine it in a way that smooths over the rough side it will stop it reversing.
“So as an England team we are aware if we’re trying to get the ball reversing every player has to buy into that or it will stop it. I didn’t see any of the inquiry into what happened but I have seen a couple of comments from David Warner’s agent. I think it will be an interesting time when [Warner] stops playing for Australia and writes a book.”
James Erskine, Warner’s agent, was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday saying: “The report that was done, they didn’t interview all the players. The whole thing was so badly handled, it was a joke.
“But eventually the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will come out and I know the whole truth. But it doesn’t serve any purpose because the Australian public over a period of time got to dislike the Australian team because they didn’t behave particularly well.
“There is absolutely no doubt that Smith, Warner and Bancroft were treated despicably. The fact of the matter is they did the wrong thing but the punishment didn’t fit the crime. I think if one or two of those players had taken legal action they would have won because of what the truth was.”
The former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist also had his say on the matter via his radio show on SEN in Perth, suggesting fresh names will be implicated in the plot in time.
Gilchrist said: “I think there’s a few people that have got it stored away and are ready to pull the trigger when the time is right – I think anyone would be naive to think that people weren’t aware of what’s going on about ball maintenance and I don’t think CA wanted to go there.”
Ben Oliver, the executive general manager of national teams at CA, told an online media conference: “We’ve maintained all the way through that if anyone has any new information relating to that incident, we encourage people to come forward and discuss that with Cricket Australia.”