'There are cracks': Legend's fresh warning over Aussie cheating saga

·4-min read
Pictured here, Aussie cricketers David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft.
Aussie trio David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were all banned for their part in the sandpaper scandal. Pic: Getty

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has warned that the fallout to the ball-tampering scandal could get even worse for Australia and that England could "exploit" it when the Ashes gets underway later this year.

The Cape Town cheating saga was thrust back into the spotlight this week after comments from Cameron Bancroft in an interview with the Guardian.

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Bancroft said it was "self-explanatory" when asked twice if Australia's bowlers knew about the ploy to use sandpaper on the ball.

A formal probe from Cricket Australia at the time cleared everybody in the touring party - outside of Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner - of any wrongdoing or knowledge of the illegal plot.

Bancroft was banned for nine months, while Smith and Warner were banned for 12 months for their respective parts in the controversy.

With England aiming to regain the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time since 2015 when the series gets underway in December, Vaughan says the tourists can take advantage of the "cracks" that still appear evident in Australian cricket.

"Dragging up the ball-tampering scandal has shown there are cracks in the Australia team that England could exploit if they start the Ashes series well later this year," Vaughan wrote in a column for The Telegraph.

"It would only take a poor Australia performance in the first Ashes Test for the pressure to mount.

"The captain, Tim Paine, is under the microscope after defeat by India, and while some think this could galvanise Australia, rarely are such public problems good for a team's unity.

"Joe Root will be enjoying this and thinking it could help. He knows an argument or two in the opposing team is always good."

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan is seen in this photo.
Michael Vaughan insists there are still cracks in Australian cricket from the cheating scandal that England can exploit. Pic: Getty

Former Test captain Michael Clarke fanned the flames on Monday when he said the Aussie bowlers must have known what was going on during the sandpaper plot.

It's a sentiment echoed by Vaughan, who went one step further by slamming the investigation into the controversy.

"In my experience, dressing rooms are a small place," Vaughan wrote.

"Not many former professionals I have spoken to believe something like that would be confined to just three people.

"Ultimately, this shows what happens if you do a piecemeal investigation and leave questions unanswered. It will keep biting you on the backside and does not do anyone any good."

The Australian bowlers that were part of the infamous 2018 Test match - Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon - released a joint statement "to the Australian public" late on Tuesday to deny any such knowledge of the plot.

Seen here, Michael Clarke and Australia's current crop of Test bowlers.
Australia's frontline bowlers have hit back at Michael Clarke. Image: Getty

Aussie bowlers deny knowledge

"We pride ourselves on our honesty. So it's been disappointing to see that our integrity has been questioned by some journalists and past players in recent days," they wrote.

"We have already answered questions many times on this issue, but we feel compelled to put the key facts on the record again.

"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.

"We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on."

The letter also rejected Clarke's assertions.

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"Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, both very respected and experienced umpires, inspected the ball after the images surfaced on the TV coverage and did not change it because there was no sign of damage," the four bowlers wrote.

"None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened."

Earlier on Tuesday, Cricket Australia said it will not re-open investigations into the 2018 scandal after Bancroft made it clear he has no new information.

It's understood Bancroft has contacted some teammates, knowing his words have gone down poorly.

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