MELBOURNE – Banned Australian player Cameron Bancroft on Wednesday confirmed that David Warner asked him to alter the ball during the tampering scandal in South Africa, and said he went along with it “to fit in”.
Bancroft was seen using sandpaper to try to rough up the ball in the Cape Town Test in March, receiving a nine-month ban from international and domestic cricket for his part in an incident that rocked the sport.
Warner and then-captain Steve Smith were exiled for a year after all three were found to be involved.
A Cricket Australia investigation pointed to Warner as the mastermind, and Bancroft revealed more details in an interview with former Australia wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist on Fox Sports.
“Dave suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball, given the situation we were in the game, and I didn’t know any better,” said Bancroft, whose ban runs out this weekend.
“I didn’t know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued really – as simple as that.
“The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time, and I valued fitting in... you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake.”
At the time, Bancroft had been forging a new Australian Test opening partnership with the more experienced Warner. But he made it clear he did not consider himself a victim.
“I had a choice and I made a massive mistake, and that is what is in my control,” said Bancroft, who admitted he often pondered what would have happened if he had said no, and concluded it was a no-win situation.
“I would have gone to bed and I would have felt like I had let everybody down. I would have felt like I had let the team down.
“I would have left like I had hurt our chances to win the game of cricket.”
Last week, Smith also opened up as he begins to re-emerge into public life, distancing himself from the plot, while admitting he failed as a captain by turning a blind eye.
Asked what happened in the changing rooms at Cape Town before Bancroft attempted to cheat, he said: “For me in the room, I walked past something and had the opportunity to stop it, and I didn’t do it, and that was my leadership failure.
“It was the potential for something to happen, and it went on and happened out in the field,” he added.
“I had the opportunity to stop it at that point rather than say, ‘I don’t want to know anything about it’.”
A scathing independent review into the incident blamed Cricket Australia’s “arrogant and controlling” culture as partly contributing to players bending the rules.
In an interview with Gilchrist on Wednesday, Smith pinpointed a downward slide in the team’s culture to a defeat against South Africa in Hobart in 2016 – their fifth loss in a row.
“I remember James Sutherland and Pat Howard coming into the (changing) rooms there and saying ‘We don’t pay you to play, we pay you to win’,” he said, referring to the former CA chief executive and high performance manager.
“For me, that was a little bit disappointing. We don’t go out there to try lose games of cricket – we go out there to try and win, and play the best way we can.”
Cameron Bancroft details what happened in the Cape Town Test match and his journey back from suspension in an interview with Adam Gilchrist. https://t.co/m5YwH0gwXN— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 26, 2018
Current CA chief Kevin Roberts said on Wednesday that it was time to move on.
“The events of Cape Town were investigated and dealt with some nine months ago now, so there’s no new news there,” he told reporters ahead of the third Test against India in Melbourne.
Bancroft is expected to make his return for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League on Sunday, with Smith and Warner available from late March.AFP