Sydney: Even as Cameron Bancroft reached out to Australian bowlers to say there was no malice in his recent interview regarding the Sandpaper Gate, the pace-bowling trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc on Tuesday released a statement, clarifying that they had no knowledge that a foreign substance was being applied on the ball.
"We pride ourselves on our honesty. So it's been disappointing to see that our integrity has been questioned by some journalists and past players in recent days in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018. We have already answered questions many times on this issue, but we feel compelled to put the key facts on the record again. We did not know a foreign substance was taken onto the field to alter the condition of the ball until we saw the images on the big screen at Newlands," read the joint statement by the trio which was available on Mitchell Starc's website. "And to those who, despite the absence of evidence, insist that 'we must have known' about the use of a foreign substance simply because we are bowlers, we say this: The umpires during that Test match, Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, both very respected and experienced umpires, inspected the ball after the images surfaced on the TV coverage and did not change it because there was no sign of damage. None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened," he added.
Further clarifying their position, the trio said: "We've all learned valuable lessons and we'd like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue. We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on."
Earlier, former Australia skipper Michael Clarke had said that it was no surprise that more than three people knew about the Sandpaper Gate. Even England pacer Stuart Broad indicated that bowlers know when the condition of the ball is being changed.
Ever since Bancroft revealed that more than three people would have knowledge about the Sandpaper Gate, the fiasco has once again become a talking point in the cricketing world. Cricket Australia's Integrity team had reached out to the right-handed batsman to see if he has more information to give on the issue. He replied in a conciliatory manner and he also indicated that he did not have significant new information to share with the board, reported Sydney Morning Herald.
He told Cricket Australia that he is supportive of the investigation and satisfied with the outcome. As a result, the matter is now unlikely to escalate.
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.