One of the biggest controversies in international cricket resurfaced on this day in 2018. It was the third test match of the 4-test series between host South Africa and Australia in Cape Town. The score was tied at 1-1. Australian bowlers like Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were in very good form with both new ball and slightly older ball, where they were getting lots of reverse swing unlike the South African.
The Australians were getting reverse swing as early as around 30 overs. In some of the cases that seemed unusual, especially because South Africans pitches were mostly had even covering of grass. Hence the chance of one side of the ball getting roughed up than the other was pretty less. Still, most of the fans and cricket followers contributed this to Australian bowlers’ skill and their way of maintaining the ball to create a smooth and rough side sooner than others.
Ex-South African fast bowler Fanie de Villiers was commentating for one of the local channels and he was not convinced. He thought there must be something beyond common people’s eye to give the Australian team the ability to reverse swing the ball sooner than others. He tipped off the camera person to keep a keen look on Australian fielders to find anything suspicious. The camera team did the same and duly found some unusual behavior post which decided to follow young Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft. Sure enough, in some time they were able to live telecast an incident where Bancroft was seen rubbing some yellow paper-like material on the ball. The incident was shown on the TV as well as on the big screen post which a message was sent to Bancroft. Later he tried to take that object out of his pocket and put in his underpants, which was also shown in the TV. The umpires intervened at this stage and talked to the captain Steve Smith.
The post-match press conference was a heated one as Smith accepted that the leadership group of him and David Warner were aware of this. They gave the responsibility to Bancroft to maintain the ball and make changes. That time, it was thought to be a yellow tape in which the dirt was collected on the sticky side and applied on the ball. Later the object was revealed as sandpaper that was used to roughen up one side of the ball.
There was widespread criticism and Australia cricket’s integrity was in question. The board made Smith and Warner step down from their position after the end of third test and later based on the investigation banned the duo from all international and domestic cricket for one year. For Bancroft the length of ban was nine months. This was followed by a cultural review of Australian cricket which indicated at a long standing mentality of winning at any cost.