Sandpaper Gate: Clarke supports Bancroft's ball tampering claim

Clarke's remarks came as Cricket Australia (CA) on Saturday said it is open to re-investigate the Sandpaper Gate fiasco if there is anyone who has more knowledge about the matter.

Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke poses at North Sydney Oval during a promotional event.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Former Australia skipper Michael Clarke said nobody is surprised that more than three people knew about the Sandpaper Gate and that the bowlers had to know about the ball tampering.

The former Australian skipper's remarks came as Cricket Australia (CA) on Saturday said it is open to re-investigate the Sandpaper Gate fiasco if there is anyone who has more knowledge about the matter.

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This announcement from CA came after opening batsman Cameron Bancroft hinted that there had to be wider knowledge about ball-tampering during the 'Sandpaper Gate' incident in 2018 in the Cape Town Test between Australia and South Africa than just the trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and the opener himself.

Speaking on Sky Sports' Big Sports Breakfast, Clarke said: "They've got to hold the ball to bowl with it. I can tell you now if you went and grabbed a pen, just a pen and put a little '1' somewhere on my cricket bat; on top of the handle, on the edge of the bat, on the toe of the bat, on the face, under the grip, anywhere, just a little number one, I would have noticed."

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"If you are playing sport at the highest level you know your tools that good it's not funny. Can you imagine that ball being thrown back to the bowler and the bowler not knowing about it? Please," he added.

Further reacting to Bancroft's comments, Clarke said: "I love how the articles in the paper are 'it is such a big surprise that Cameron Bancroft has made a ...' Actually if you read his quotes it is not what he did say as what he didn't say in regards to other people knowing about sandpaper gate."

"What's the surprise? That more than three people knew? I don't think anybody who has played the game of cricket or knows a little bit about cricket would know that in a team like that, at the highest level, when the ball is such an important part of the game. I don't think anybody is surprised that more than three people knew about it," he added.

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In March 2018, Bancroft was caught on camera trying to change the condition of the ball using sandpaper in a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. The incident later went on to be labelled as the 'Sandpaper Gate' and is considered as one of the darkest moments in the history of Australian cricket.

David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were involved in the Sandpaper Gate scandal.   -  GETTY IMAGES


Bancroft, who is playing county cricket in Durham, said it was 'probably self-explanatory' whether the bowlers were aware that the ball was being tampered with.

"Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part. Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers, and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory," Bancroft told The Guardian interviewer Donald McRae. 

"I guess one thing I learnt through the journey and being responsible is that's where the buck stops [with Bancroft himself]. Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision," he added.

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When he was further stressed, Bancroft replied: "Uh... yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it's pretty probably self-explanatory."

On the third day of the match, Bancroft was caught on camera trying to alter the condition of the ball. As soon as the clip was shown on television, it went viral on social media and the entire cricketing fraternity condemned the act.

After the conclusion of the day's play, Bancroft and then Australia skipper Steve Smith admitted that they did tamper with the ball. David Warner's involvement in the act was also confirmed.

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Australia went on to lose the match and CA took some bold calls by removing Smith and Warner as the captain and vice-captain of the side.

Later, the Australian cricket board handed a one-year ban to both Smith and Warner, while Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension. 

Australia coach Darren Lehmann also resigned after the episode.

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