Australia bowler Cameron Bancroft has been charged with an act of ball tampering with team captain Steve Smith admitting to instructing Bancroft to do so. Smith said that he and other senior players that he declined to name had planned to tamper with the ball during a lunch break.
This resulted in what many have considered one of Australian cricket’s darkest days. An organised plot to cheat during an international game reflects poorly on Australia’s historical passion for sportsmanship.
During the match, Bancroft was seen using a type of yellow sticky tape that had picked up debris from the ground. He was seen using the tape to “scuff” the ball, which is illegal in cricket.
Bancroft then attempted to disguise his act when he noticed that umpires were getting suspicious. Fearing exposure, Bancroft then put the tape down his trunks, inadvertently revealing a cloth in his pocket.
The move was caught by several high focus cameras which left little doubt about what was being done to the ball. The presence of this much supervision has led some to question how the Australians ever thought they could get away with it.
What was the point? Well, by scuffing one side of the ball the cricketers can create the effect of ‘reverse-swing’ which has played a big role in the current test series.
The tactic is able to help create unplayable deliveries by fast bowlers. Both Australia and South Africa have used reverse-swing to their advantages throughout the test series but this was attributed to an abrasive wicket block and dry pitches.
As the South African team appeared to be winning, the Aussies were desperate to get a leg up in Cape Town. But how did the idea even come up?
Captain Steve Smith admitted to hatching the plan in a discussion between senior players while having lunch. Smith decided not to name the others who were at lunch with him and insisted Darren Lehmann, the team’s coach, had nothing to do with it.
Naturally, there are now calls for Steve Smith to step down as captain of the team. Certainly, an Australian team leader who orders his players to cheat is a disgraceful look.
Smith told the press that he was “embarrassed” and “incredibly sorry” that his actions brought the game “into disrepute”. Despite this Smith said he plans to continue as the team’s captain.
The Australian Cricket board had a meeting on Sunday from which they chose to stand down David Warner and Captain Steve Smith from their roles during the remained of the test. However, their fate long-term is not yet decided.