Joe Root, the England captain, admits Australia’s ball-tampering storm is “disappointing for Test cricket and cricket in general” after two Australian players were caught up in a cheating storm that has rocked the game.
Steve Smith, Root’s opposite number and Cameron Bancroft, the young Australian opener, have both been banned for a Test match each after a plan to tamper with the ball during their third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Bancroft was caught on television cameras rubbing the ball on some yellow tape which he had used to collect abrasive debris from the pitch. He then hid the tape down the front of his trousers to avoid detection when challenged by the two umpires, but both Bancroft and Smith appeared at a press conference after the day’s play and admitted the plot had been hatched, by the team’s “leadership group”, to try and gain an advantage in the game.
Both players were fined and banned, and will likely face further sanctions from Cricket Australia as a storm which has attracted criticism from the Australian prime minister rumbles on.
And Root, who admitted he had no reason to suspect similar cheating during the Ashes series over the winter which his side lost 4-0, admitted: “It is disappointing for Test cricket and cricket in general.
“I think as a captain, you’re responsible for the way everyone else in your team behaves, and you want to make sure that’s within the laws of the game and within the spirit of the game.
“I just have to look after my group of guys and make sure I’m happy with the way they’re conducting themselves - and if not make sure things are done right.”
Root was speaking after England had continued their losing streak in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland, and newspaper reports surfaced claiming David Warner - the Australian vice-captain who, along with Smith, was stood down midway through the third Test - told England players how to tamper with the ball during post-series drinks after his side’s Ashes victory.
“I personally wasn’t aware of anything going on throughout that series,” Root added.
“Every time you go out and represent your country you’re under the spotlight. I think it’s really important you give absolutely everything on the field and make sure you do everything you can to win - but do it in the right way.”