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Australia bowlers issue statement in ball-tampering row: Did not know foreign substance was taken onto field

Australian bowlers who were a part of the ill-fated 2018 Cape Town Test against South Africa issued a joint statement on Tuesday, once again pleading their innocence in the ball-tampering saga after Cameron Bancroft’s latest comments stirred up reignited the controversy last week.

Australia’s bowling attack comprised for pacers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and off-spinner Nathan Lyon but they have always maintained that they had no knowledge of Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner’s plan to tamper with the ball to assist the bowlers on Day 3 of the third Test on March 24, 2018.

But Bancroft, who was banished for 9 months for using sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball, stirred up fresh controversy after hinting in a recent interview that the Aussie bowlers were also aware that ball-tampering tactics were being deployed by their players in the Newlands Test.

Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Lyon however, reiterated their stance on the issue and urged everybody to move on from the incident.

“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 in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018.

“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 at Newlands. And to those who, despite the absence of evidence, insist that ‘we must have known’ about the use of a foreign substance simply because we are bowlers, we say this: The umpires during that Test match, 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.

“None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened. We’ve all learned valuable lessons and we’d like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue.

“We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on,” read the joint statement from the Aussie bowlers.

NO NEW EVIDENCE

Bancroft was caught on camera using sandpaper to scruff up the match ball during South Africa’s 2nd innings on Day 3 of the third Test at Newlands. He later pleaded guilty to the offence and escaped with the least punishment, unlike then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner, both of whom lost their leadership roles and banned from all cricket for a year by Cricket Australia.

The Australian board also clarified on Tuesday that Bancroft doesn’t have any new evidence to support his claims.

“Our integrity unit reached out to Cam off the back of the media report and asked him directly whether he had any new information since the original investigation, and he’s come back and confirmed overnight that he has no new information. So we thank Cam for confirming that,” Hockley told cricket.com.au.

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