'Rumour-mongering': Aussie bowlers fume over Michael Clarke claim

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Michael Clarke, pictured here speaking to the media in Sydney.
Australia's frontline bowlers have hit back at Michael Clarke. Image: Getty

Australia's frontline Test bowlers have taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Michael Clarke as they issued a joint statement addressing their alleged knowledge of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

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.

But former Test captain Clarke fanned the flames on Monday when he said the bowlers must have known what was going on.

Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, having all played in the infamous match, released a statement "to the Australian public" late on Tuesday via Starc's website.

"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."

Cameron Bancroft, pictured here speaking with umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth.
Cameron Bancroft speaks with umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth after being caught ball-tampering. (Photo by Peter Heeger/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Aussie bowlers reject Michael Clarke claims

The letter also rejected Clarke's assertions.

"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."

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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.

Bancroft served a nine-month ban for wielding the weapon that plunged Australian cricket into crisis, while Smith and Warner were stripped of their leadership roles and given year-long suspensions by CA.

"We can only deal with the facts that we have and there's nothing further that has been raised," CA's interim chief executive Nick Hockley told AAP.

"There was a thorough investigation.

"So as far as we're concerned, that investigation was closed and the sanctions were served."

with AAP

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