It is day 3 of the Cape Town Cricket Test series, but it seems the match is currently on hold as 2 Australian players are in the limelight, but not in a good way.
Australian skipper Steve Smith and batsman Cameron Bancroft admitted to charges of ball-tampering after the latter was found trying to change the condition of the ball by using a foreign object during the third day of the third Test match at Newlands against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.
Both Smith and Bancroft admitted the charges after the end of the day’s play.
According to the footage, a small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, and he was also captured taking it from his pocket and seeming to place it down his trousers.
It showed Bancroft seeming to rub the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers, as is permitted under ICC playing conditions, a sports channel website reported.
He appeared to put the object down his pants apparently after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann over the walkie-talkie.
When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers.
Both South African and Australian commentators on the host broadcaster said Bancroft’s actions looked extremely suspicious.
Andy Pycroft, the match referee, charged Bancroft with a Level 2 offense of attempting to alter the condition of the ball.
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith said he was surprised the umpires had not changed the ball, despite the fact that Bancroft had tampered with the ball.
“In my opinion, I think he’s tampered with the ball and used an object to do that. It does look like it’s a bit of sandpaper. The footage doesn’t look good. I’m quite amazed the umpires haven’t done anything with the ball. The footage is quite damning,” Graeme said.
“If it is proved that what has gone on in the footage is correct then some tough questions have to be asked of Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann. I think there is a lot of questions that need to be answered and Australia needs to answer them. For me it’s quite obvious that he’s doing something with the ball and the umpires need to do something about it,” he added.
Meanwhile, Smith, who admitted the charges, felt regretted and said, “The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch,” he said. “I am not proud of what’s happened. It’s not within the spirit of the game. My integrity, the team’s integrity, and the leadership group’s integrity have come into question. It won’t happen again.”
Owing to the ball-tampering saga, South Africa were in a strong position with the score reading 238 for 5 after 72 overs.
They currently lead Australia by 294 runs. The Proteas would be hoping to win the Cape Town Test and go 2-1 up in the four-match Test series.