New Delhi, May 19
The Sandpapergate controversy, rekindled over three years after the Australians were caught using sandpaper for ball-tampering in the Cape Town Test against South Africa in March 2018, refuses to die down.
Yesterday, four Australian bowlers who played in the Cape Town Test — Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon — had asked for the “rumour-mongering and Innuendo” surrounding the incident. In a statement, they said: “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.”
In other words, the blame for the controversy has been placed only on three men — captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, who was caught on camera trying to hide a piece of sandpaper in his trousers.
How can bowlers not know?
But is it possible that the fast bowlers especially, who look closely at the ball before every delivery in order to hold it correctly to make it swing the desired way, did not know that its condition was being changed?
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke today said the four bowlers missed a very important detail in an otherwise “smartly worded” statement — that their involvement in the ball-tampering was hinted at by Bancroft himself, not an outsider. Also, then bowling coach David Saker said recently that “there was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else”.
Clarke has stuck to his opinion that the four bowlers were aware of the plot to tamper with the ball.
England fast bowler Stuart Broad made it clear that elite bowlers were highly unlikely to miss significant alterations to the ball: “In an England Test team, if I miss the seam by four millimetres, Jimmy Anderson’s on me: ‘Why has this ball got a mark on it here; it’s because you’ve missed the seam: start hitting the seam, will you’.” — TNS, agencies