CAPE TOWN – “I lied. I lied about the sandpaper. I panicked in that situation and I’m very sorry ... I feel like I’ve let everyone down in Australia.”
That was the response from Cameron Bancroft about lying about the sandpaper and saying he used yellow tape instead, during a press conference at Perth Airport on Thursday.
Bancroft was the man caught on camera tampering with the ball during the third Test against South Africa at Newlands last Saturday, although ultimately, it is former vice-captain David Warner who has been identified as the chief instigator for the incident.
Warner and ex-captain Steve Smith have been banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia, while Bancroft received a nine-month suspension.
They are not allowed to play for and in Australia, as well as the IPL in India, although the Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews said the England and Wales Cricket Board will have to decide if Bancroft can feature in county cricket.
An emotional Bancroft, who was battling to speak, expressed his remorse for his role in the scandal that has shocked the cricketing world and beyond.
“I want to say that I’m very sorry. I’m very disappointed and I regret my actions. It is something I will regret for the rest of my life,” he said.
“All I can do is ask for forgiveness. I will do my best to contribute to the community
“I lied. I lied about the sandpaper. I panicked in that situation and I’m very sorry. I feel like I’ve let everyone down in Australia.”
Bancroft said that the worse thing about the matter is that he has “given up my spot in the team for free”, with Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns set to open the batting in the fourth Test against the Proteas that starts at the Wanderers on Friday.
“The thing that breaks my heart the most is that I’ve given up my spot in the team for free. People know I worked so hard to get to this point in my career, and to have given up that chance for free is devastating,” Bancroft said.
“I have never ever been involved in tampering with the ball, and it clearly compromises my values and what I stand for as a player and as a person.
“It’s so big because the action of doing it is completely wrong.
“For me to carry that out in front of world cricket and to be seen breaking the laws of the game, not playing within the spirit of the game, it’s completely how cricket shouldn’t be played.
“It’s going to be a really long road particularly for myself to earn that respect back, but for me, that’s the most important thing.”
The 25-year-old right-hander refused to comment on Warner – who the Cricket Australia investigation found had instructed Bancroft to tamper with the ball – or Smith.
“Look, I’m not here to comment about that. It was me who carried out the action of using the sandpaper, and it’s not good enough. It’s embarrassing, and I’m truly sorry.”