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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cameron Bancroft admits ball-tampering ~ and did Steve Smith knew it ??

In Cricket – shortleg is a specialist position, yet it is an unwritten rule that the man donning that position would be the junior in the team or the opener ! ..  controversies are not new to the game.. in 1983, Indians in Pakistan were bamboozled by big banana inswingers of Imrankhan  ~ there were comments that ball-tampering was rampant and that frontline Paki bowlers were overstepping by a big margin ~ and Umpires were not taking cognizance !!!

The 3rd Test at Capetown on day 3 is interestingly poised.  South Africa 311 & 238/5 * (72 ov); Australia – 255.  South Africa lead by 294 runs with 5 wickets remaining. ..

Cameron Timothy Bancroft   made his debut for Australia as a batsman/keeper in a T20I against India in Sydney early in 2016, but has played only one T20. Remember he made 150 in Chennai playing for Aussie A. Bancroft was then named in Australia's Test squad for the 2015 tour of Bangladesh, which was cancelled due to safety concerns, and he instead had to settle for another productive Shield campaign with 732 runs at 45.75.   At Capetown, Cameras focused on Bancroft, who put his hand in his pocket before appearing to work on the ball with the yellow object, before putting his hand back in his pocket. Some minutes later he could be seen taking the object from his pocket and dropping it down the front of his pants.  Day three of the third Test in Cape Town was beginning to get away from Australia with Aiden Markram dominating the second session, before the footage was replayed on broadcast. Umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth convened in the middle, before talking to Bancroft.

In the sport of cricket, ball tampering is an action in which a fielder illegally alters the condition of the ball. The primary motivation of ball tampering is to interfere with the aerodynamics of the ball.  Under Law 41, subsection 3 of the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. Players allegedly resort to tampering the ball by rubbing the ball on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object, or tampering with the seam of the ball or using abrasive sand sheet.

Cameron Bancroft, the Australia opener, was spoken to by the on-field umpires after television cameras captured him holding a foreign object when working on the ball during the second session on day three of the Newlands Test. A small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft's hands after he had worked on the ball, and he was also captured taking it from his pocket and seeming to place it down his trousers. The footage showed Bancroft seeming to rub the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers, as is permitted under ICC playing conditions. He appeared to put the object down his pants apparently after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann over walkie talkie. Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground.

The umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball nor penalise the Australians five runs - the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball.  Slow-motion replays, both on TV and broadcast on the big screen at Newlands, appeared to show Bancroft then putting the small object into his underwear in an apparent attempt to hide it.  The officials chose not to change the ball or penalise his team the statutory five-run on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball. Although the umpires appeared satisfied with Bancroft’s explanation on the field at the time and allowed play to continue, match officials could review other footage.

Reverse swing has been a major part of this series, and players can increase that by roughing up the ball with foreign objects, which is strictly prohibited in cricket. Australia, who are falling a long way behind in the game, appeared desperate for wickets to turn it around. Ball tampering has been an issue raised throughout Australia’s tour. In Port Elizabeth, Warner was highlighted for the impact of the bandages on his hand – the result of finger injuries suffered while batting – on the ball, and on day one in Cape Town Australia bowler Pat Cummins inadvertently stepped on the ball.

After the first Test in Durban Australia’s coach, Darren Lehmann, said both sides would try various “techniques” to get the ball to reverse swing. “Obviously, there are techniques used by both sides to get the ball reverse and that’s just the way the game goes,” Lehmann said after the Durban Test.  When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers. Both South African and Australian commentators on the host broadcaster, SuperSport, said Bancroft's actions looked suspicious. "It is very suspicious. There is no doubt about that," Allan Border said. "If you're caught doing the wrong thing, you've got to pay the penalty."

The former South Africa captain Graeme Smith said he was surprised the umpires had not changed the ball. "In my opinion I think he's tampered with the ball and used an object to do that," Smith said. "It does look like it's a bit of sandpaper. The footage doesn't look good. I'm quite amazed the umpires haven't done anything with the ball. The footage is quite damning. Shane Warne, meanwhile, said it was unlikely that Bancroft had acted alone, without the knowledge of his captain and coach. "You've got to own up and say what was it that you were hiding," Warne said. "You can't have that in the game. We've got to get to the bottom of it. The Aussies have to be honest and say 'this is how it happened'." I don't have any issue with anyone if they are sucking on a mint or chewing some gum, then that's just natural saliva.

Australia's bowlers had been able to gain pronounced reverse swing on day three in Cape Town, though South Africa continued to build their second-innings lead. Questions about ball tampering have been raised throughout the series, where reverse swing has been a consistent theme.  Ball tampering has been at the centre on many earlier occasions too.  To recall a few, in  2010 England were implicated in a ball-tampering storm – a miserable third day of the third Test ended with England staring at a series-leveling defeat and Andy Flower, their coach, being forced to defend their integrity over claims that Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson had cheated. South Africa ‘made their concerns known’ to match referee Roshan Mahanama over the state of a ball with which they believe Broad attempted to tamper by treading on it at an early stage of the South African second innings.

Pakis had the knack of making ball talk with reverse swing and many past cricketers had expressed doubts on that.  The big burly Sarfraz Nawaz, sued former England batsman Allan Lamb for writing in the Daily Mirror that more than 20 years ago Nawaz invented an illegal trick to make cricket balls swing wide and late, deceiving batsmen, a technique refined by his successors into widespread cheating by the international team last summer.  During a cricket match against Pakistan, Faf du Plessis of South Africa was filmed repeatedly rubbing the ball on the zip of his trouser pocket. As punishment he was docked half his match fee, his team was penalised five runs and the umpires ordered the ball to be changed. The  other time in the history of the sport that a team has been formally reprimanded for "ball-tampering" was in 2006 when the umpires ruled that Pakistani players had doctored the condition of the ball during a game against England. The Pakistan team, in protest, refused to return to the field after a tea break and forfeited the match.

So ~ what really happened – did Bancroft tamper the ball – and was it a solitary act or backed by the Team and Coach .. helping their bowlers to get undue advantage ?  ~  as I post this, read on web that Cameron Bancroft has admitted to trying to change the condition of the ball using a foreign object ..and a contrite Steven Smith admitted to the team management knowing that !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Mar 2018.

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