Josh Hazlewood with fellow quick Mitchell Starc.
Josh Hazlewood with fellow quick Mitchell Starc.

Bowlers break silence on tampering saga

THERE has been much speculation about Mitchell Starc's fury at his teammates following the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket.

Now we've finally heard from the man himself.

Starc has opened up about his frustration at the rushed press conference held by Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft after cameras had revealed Bancroft was using sandpaper to tamper with the ball during the third Test in South Africa.

Unaware of the huge public fallout that would follow, Smith fronted the media after day three and said the team's leadership group - which fast bowlers Starc and Josh Hazlewood are a part of - was behind the tactic.

A Cricket Australia investigation held Smith, Bancroft and vice-captain David Warner responsible for the ploy and the Australian bowling unit has firmly denied any knowledge of what was happening.

Starc confirmed the fractures in the team caused by the press conference while speaking at a Women in Banking and Finance forum in Sydney where corporate adviser Sue Cato warned of the pitfalls awaiting those who didn't fully plan ahead of press conferences.

"Going back to what Sue said before about being upfront and tackling a problem head on, that's something the group who decided to go into a press conference didn't really think about," Starc said.

"They obviously didn't see how big the reaction was going to be at that time and then went down the path of not telling the whole truth and then I guess involving another group, which ruined, well, not ruined, but affected other reputations."

Cameron Bancroft uses sandpaper on the ball in the third Test against South Africa.
Cameron Bancroft uses sandpaper on the ball in the third Test against South Africa.

The report of Starc's comments follow Hazlewood's firm denial of any knowledge of the plot during a television appearance this week.

The opening quick explained how the bowlers would not be aware of specific changes made to the ball.

"We obviously have ball maintenance people in the team, usually batsmen because they are in the circle and the bowlers field at fine leg," he said.

"They look after the ball from time to time and if it stops swinging, normally it starts to reverse swing.

"We pretty much get it at the top of our mark one second before we start running in. We have a quick look to see which side of the ball is more worn than the other."

Spinner Nathan Lyon also reiterated his disbelief at the whole situation in a wide-ranging interview with cricket.com.au.

"I don't know what to say about that tour," Lyon said.

"No-one saw it coming and to be honest with you, if you ask me in 10 years' time, I still won't know the answer."



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