Michael Clarke echoes Cameron Bancroft with explosive tampering claim

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Michael Clarke, pictured here during a Test match for Australia.
Michael Clarke has echoed Cameron Bancroft's claim the bowlers knew about the ball-tampering plot. Image: Getty

Michael Clarke has supported Cameron Bancroft's suggestion that Australia's bowlers knew about the ball-tampering plot in the infamous Cape Town Test in 2018.

On Saturday, Bancroft reignited the sandpaper scandal by claiming Australia's bowlers' knowledge of the plot is "self-explanatory".

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Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension by Cricket Australia for his role in the incident, while skipper Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were stripped of their leadership titles and given year-long bans.

But a former review conducted by Cricket Australia at the time cleared everybody else in the touring party of any wrongdoing or knowledge of the illegal plot.

However Bancroft has now reignited debate about whether that is actually the case.

"All I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part," Bancroft told the Guardian.

"Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory."

The former Test opener, asked to clarify whether some of Australia's bowlers knew, replied: "Yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it's pretty probably self-explanatory".

Australia's first-choice bowling attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon played in that infamous match.

Cameron Bancroft, pictured here after being caught using sandpaper on the ball.
Cameron Bancroft talks to the umpires after being caught using sandpaper on the ball. (Photo by Peter Heeger/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Michael Clarke supports Cameron Bancroft claim

Former Test bowling coach David Saker has since refuted the suggestion, but Clarke isn't having a bar of it.

On Monday, the former Test captain said the bowlers had to have realised something strange was being done to the ball.

“They’ve got to hold the ball to bowl with it,” Clarke said on Sky Sports Big Breakfast.

“So, if there’s sandpaper being rubbed on the ball they have to get the ball back to the bowler and the bowler has to hang on to it before he lets it go.

“I can tell you now if you went and grabbed a pen, just a pen and put a little ‘1’ somewhere on my cricket bat; on top of the handle, on the edge of the bat, on the toe of the bat, on the face, under the grip, anywhere, just a little number one I would have noticed.

“If you are playing sport at the highest level you know your tools that good it’s not funny.

“Can you imagine that ball being thrown back to the bowler and the bowler not knowing about it? Please.”

Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, pictured here during a Test match in 2019.
Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon look on during a Test match in 2019. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Clarke suggested the truth will come out sooner rather than later.

“What’s the surprise? That more than three people knew?" he said. 

"I don’t think anybody who has played the game of cricket or knows a little bit about cricket would know that in a team like that, at the highest level, when the ball is such an important part of the game.

“I don’t think anybody is surprised that more than three people knew about it.”

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Saker said there's no use pointing fingers now.

“Obviously a lot of things went wrong at that time. The finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on,” he said.

“There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest ... He’s not going to be the last.

“The disappointing thing is it’s never going to go away. Regardless of what’s said.

"We all know that we made a monumental mistake. The gravity wasn’t as plain until it all came out.”

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