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Cameron Bancroft - The cricket controversy explained


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As a result of the ball tampering scandal, Austrailian cricketer Cameron Bancroft was docked 75% of his match earnings, whilst captain Steve Smith was fined all of his.

Malcolm Turnbull, the nation's Prime Minister, has called for sackings and further sanctions. But what exactly is all the fuss about? 

What happened?

During the third day of the third test between Austrailia and South Africa in Cape Town, Cameron Bancroft, who plays domestically for Western Australia, Perth Scorchers and Somerset, was shown on TV taking sticky tape out of his pocket and rubbing it on to the ball. 

On realising he was being filmed, Bancroft panicked and put the tape down his own trousers, he was then spoken to by on-field umpires.

What happened next? 

Australian captain Steve Smith, who in December 2017, reached a test batting rate of 947, second only to the great Sir Don Bradman, admitted in a post-match conference that the plan had been concocted by himself and other members of the "leadership group" of the Austrailian team.

Bancroft is the second youngest member of the touring squad and also the least experienced, with his place in the side under much speculation. Many have argued, that Bancroft's actions given his standing in the team are understandable, if his captain asked him to do it, he would not really feel in a position to disagree. 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) charged Bancroft with ball-tampering and he pled guilty. 

Smith was universally condemned and was suspended from his role as captain for the rest of the series, as was vice-captain David Warner. Tim Paine will captain the side for the rest of the tour. 

Smith was also banned for one match. In February 2018, it was announced he was set to captain Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but he has since been stripped of that role and been replaced by Ajinkya Rahane.

Cricket Australia are conducting their own investigations into players and coaches and  sent Smith, Warner and Bancroft home. All three were told to expect "significant" further punishment. Coach Darren Lehmann has not been charged.

Many pundits feel this amounts to a slap on the wrist and find it hard to believe Smith and Warner were the only two involved. 

Since, Smith and Warner have both been give a one year ban, whilst Bancroft has been given nine months. 

IPL have banned both Smith and Warner (Who is in his fifth season with Sunrisers Hyderabad after five seasons with Delhi Daredevils) for a year. 

What were they trying to do? 

The condition of a cricket ball is of tantamount importance to how it is delivered when bowled, so there are strict laws set out about what you can do. 

If one side of the ball becomes rough, whilst the other remains smooth, it can create a lot of reverse swing when the ball is in the air and alter the flight of the ball. 

Reverse swing is when the swing occurs towards the shine and is normally stronger than normal swing and occurs later in the ball's trajectory, it's harder to deal with as it's less common. 

Bowlers can polish the ball on their trousers as much as they like and can rub the ball with their saliva or sweat. You cannot pick apart the seam or rub the ball on the ground or with your fingernails or any other external object.

Soil is a very good substance at roughening up a cricket ball, by placing soil onto tape, it acts as a sandpaper, making one side of the ball incredibly rough. This is against the rules of the sport, and this is a sport which prides itself on sportsmanship. 

Has this happened before? 

England suspected the Aussies of ball-tampering during The Ashes but did not have enough evidence to present to the authorities. Footage emerged of Bancroft putting sugar in his pocket before the fifth test in Sydney but this was dismissed as a way of getting an energy boost during a hot afternoon. 

However, there were suspicions over Warner polishing the ball at mid-off and England were surprised at how Austrailia achieved reverse swing in seemingly impossible conditions. James Anderson, England's fast bowler was at the centre of the most serious claim. However, footage was released in which it looked like he was picking apart at the ball's seam.

In 1994, England captain Mike Atherton was fined £2,000 after footage appeared to show him reaching into his pocket and rubbing a substance on to the ball against South Africa at Lord's. He claimed he had dirt in his pocket to dry his hands and improve his grip but was fined for not disclosing this. 

In 2000, Pakistan captain Waqar Younis became the first player to be suspended for ball tampering and was fined half of his match fee after an ODI against Sri Lanka.

In 2004, India's Rahul Dravid was fined half of his match fee after coughing a lozenge onto one side of the ball in a tie against New Zealand in Brisbane.

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was banned for two T20 internationals after biting the ball against Austrailia in an attempt to readjust the seam.

In a 2013 test between South Africa and Pakistan in Dubai, Faf du Plessis, South Africa fielder, was shown scuffing the ball against the zip of his trousers, he was fined 50% of his earnings and Pakistan were awarded 5 runs.

Nine months later in a match against Sri Lanka, South African bowler Vernon Philander lost 75% of his match earnings after scratching the ball.

De Plessis lost his match fee against Australia in November 2016 after using a mint or lollipop to produce excess saliva to rub on the ball.

What makes this incident different is that it is obviously an organised team attempt to break the rules and dishonestly gain an advantage in the field of play. 

Image Credit - Wikipedia Commons 

Image above shows Australian Cricket captain Steven Smith. 

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