CAPE TOWN – In a sensational admission, Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft said he used yellow tape to try to change the condition of the ball on day three of the third Test against the Proteas at Newlands on Saturday.
The Australian press conference after the day’s play was delayed for about an hour as the visitors met with umpires Nigel Llong, Richard Illingworth and Ian Gould, as well as match referee Andy Pycroft after TV footage showed Bancroft using some object to rub the ball.
That was the method used to try to make the ball reverse-swing quicker and more substantially as the Proteas went about building their lead.
South Africa ended the day on 238/5, and 294 runs ahead with two days to go.
But the actual match proved to be a sideshow to yet another controversial incident in this Test series, with Bancroft caught on camera taking the tape to rub the ball, and then taking it out of his pocket and dropping it in his pants before umpires questioned him.
He produced a black sunglasses container, but after the day’s play, he fronted up to the media alongside captain Steve Smith and admitted to what he had done.
“We just had discussions with the match officials. I’ve been charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball. Once I was sighted on the big screens, I panicked quite a lot,” Bancroft said.
“I want to be here because I’m accountable for my actions. I’ve got to live with the consequences and the damage to my reputation.”
In apologising, Smith revealed that the plan to use the yellow tape was actually a ploy created by the senior players.
“The leadership group knew about it. I’m not proud of it. We spoke about it and thought it was a possible way to get an advantage. The coaches weren’t involved,” the skipper said.