Australia skipper Steve Smith and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft have confessed to tamper the ball during the third day’s play in the ongoing Newlands Test against South Africa.
In a shocking press conference after the day's play, the duo were fairly straightforward in their talk. While Bancroft confirmed that he had been charged by the governing body, Smith apologised and tried to convince everyone that this was the first time it had happened under his captaincy.
"I had discussions with the match officials, I've been charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball. We had a discussion during the break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition,” Bancroft told reporters in Cape Town.
"It didn't work, and the umpires obviously didn't change the ball, but I guess once I was cited on the screens I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers," the rookie opener further added.
Smith admitted that it was a deliberate plan from the “leadership group” of the side.
"The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch. 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 has come into question. It wont happen again,” Smith said.
"It was the leadership group's idea. Poor choice and we deeply regret our actions. The coaches weren't involved. It was purely the leadership group who came up with this. This is the first time it has happened under my leadership. We saw this game as such as an important game. We've seen the ball reversing through this series and this ball didn't seem like it was going to go. It's such poor actions. Deeply regrettable and wont happen again. I can promise you. I can promise you this is the first time it has happened,” he explained.
The Australian captain further went on to say that he is embarrassed with the way things unfolded. Nonetheless, he made it clear that he would not consider stepping down as a captain.
"I am embarrassed. I know the boys in the shed are embarrassed as well. Being the leader I am incredibly sorry. If we weren't caught, I would still regret it,” Smith quoted
"I wont consider stepping down [from captaincy]. I still think I am the right person for the job. Today was a big mistake on my part and on the leadership group as well. I have to take control of the ship. This is something I am not proud of. It's something I hope I can learn from and come back from. I am embarrassed. It is a big error in judgement," he elaborated.
During the post-lunch session on Day 3, cameras caught Bancroft using a foreign object to work on the ball. Video aired by the official broadcaster shows Bancroft using a small, yellow object hidden in his palm, as he rubbed the ball with his palm and then onto his trousers. He is then seen transferring something from that palm into his right pocket.
The footage was brought to the notice of the two on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, who immediately halted play and conferred in the middle of the pitch.
Subsequently, the umpires called Australia captain Steve Smith and Bancroft for a discussion. They appeared to ask Bancroft what was in his pocket, and he produced a soft black sunglasses case. Questions about ball tampering have been raised throughout the series, where reverse swing has been a consistent theme.