Three days after the in-famous ball-tampering controversy, Alvin Naicker – the head of production at host broadcaster SuperSport – has said that Australia’s rookie opener Cameron Bancroft might have escaped this notorious scandal had he not panicked and stuffed the evidence down his trousers.
During the post-lunch session on Day 3 in Cape Town, cameras had caught Bancroft using a foreign object to work on the ball. Video aired by the official broadcaster had shown Bancroft using a small, yellow object hidden in his palm, as he rubbed the ball with his palm and then onto his trousers. He was then seen transferring something from that palm into his right pocket.
“We initially just saw that he had something in his hand and he put it in his pocket, but we didn’t know what it was,” Naicker told Reuters.
“It was only when he later panicked and put it in his underpants that we got sight of the yellow tape,” he further added.
The footage was then brought to 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.
“The moment he tried to dispose of it in his pants, we knew that this was a major incident. Until then, we were not sure what we were looking at,” Naicker said.
He further went on to say that they had not been tracking Bancroft exclusively, but it is standard for the broadcaster to follow the ball from player to player, even when it is not in play.
“We have seven cameras that stay with the ball always, whether it is in play or not. But there are a lot more cameras, we had 30 at the ground,” Naicker disclosed.
He also revealed that they telecast the footage of Bancroft rubbing the ball with the yellow object almost immediately after the incident.
“He (Bancroft) probably saw it two minutes after it happened and very smartly our cameraman focused on the coaching staff and we saw the coach (Darren Lehmann) get on the walkie-talkie to the player down on the field (Peter Handscomb), who ran on to speak with Bancroft. It was then he panicked,” Naicker said.
The SuperSport broadcaster head is rightfully receiving all the praise from the cricketing fraternity for breaking one of cricket’s greatest scandals. Naicker concluded by saying that they were neither asked to do it, nor were driven by any other previous suspicious behaviour.
“We don’t want it to seem like we are going after the Australian team. If that was a South African, we would have broadcast the footage for sure. We have a responsibility to entertain, but just like journalists we have a moral obligation to provide unbiased editorial,” Naicker concluded.