‘Fuel on the fire’: Legends slam tell-alls
Cricket legends have unloaded on Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith's tell-all interviews with a scathing assessment of the reasons behind the interviews.
With Bancroft's domestic and international ban set to end on Saturday, the former Test opener had an exclusive interview with Fox Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist.
In a stunning revelation, Bancroft revealed it was David Warner who had suggested using the sandpaper.
"Dave (Warner) suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in the game and I didn't know any better," Bancroft said.
"I didn't know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued, really - as simple as that.
"The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in … you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake."
He said he had been in a tough spot and he would have been in the same situation whether or not he had chosen to tamper with the ball.
"I would have gone to bed and I would have felt like I had let everybody down. I would have felt like I had let the team down. I would have left like I had hurt our chances to win the game of cricket," Bancroft said.
Meanwhile, Smith - also speaking with Gilchrist by on Cricket 360 - revealed where the unquenchable thirst for victory came from that sparked the controversy - a Test against South Africa in Hobart in 2016.
"I remember James Sutherland and Pat Howard coming into the rooms there and saying 'we don't pay you to play, we pay you to win'," Smith said.
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting told Cricket.com.au he was "quite shocked" by the revelations, but understood why it aired.
"You've probably got a big percentage of the population watching the cricket today and they'll be reading about it tomorrow. I can understand how that could happen," Ponting said.
"I'm not sure how happy the players would be about it or Cricket Australia, because it's a pretty special moment in Australian cricket on a day like today. So, we'll see what the reaction is.
"I've seen a couple of headlines (since the interviews), which I've been shocked at, I must admit. Some of the things that have been said have been quite shocking to me."
Despite the re-airing of the issue, Ponting backs Smith to return to a leadership position.
He also said he understands why Bancroft and Smith wanted to talk about the issue again.
"I think the guys that are not banned have had long enough to move on from that sort of stuff," Ponting said.
"The guys that were banned have had to live it on a daily basis, but the other guys not quite as much.
"I'm pretty sure that Painey and some of the other guys, they have to leave that behind and move on and worry about what's happening in the middle of the MCG. Because right now, the series is at absolute fever pitch … so the less distractions the better."
Former Australian batsman Dean Jones was not so understanding.
He took to Twitter, blasting the pair for their interviews.
My thoughts on the Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft interview.— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) December 26, 2018
1. Just dumb to do the interviews. What were they thinking?
2. Just be quiet, do your time. Practice hard and quietly get your spot back.
3. If they get a 100, don’t carry on. Just raise your hand and move on.
What these interviews have done... and when Warner does his with 60 mins... will just throw more fuel on the fire. All 3 were badly advised. Just keep quiet boys... do your time and play.... that’s if they get that chance again.— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) December 26, 2018
On the Fox Cricket coverage, Kerry O'Keeffe said Bancroft's admission he was ordered to ball tamper spoke volumes.
"The one that hit home to me most was that he said he'd have felt just as bad if he'd said 'no' to tampering with the ball," he said.
"Does that say more about him or more about the atmosphere that was inside that team culture at the time. I think it probably says more about [option] B, that he'd have felt bad if he'd said 'no' to cheating.
"That atmosphere should never have been able to develop, but it obviously had."
Fellow Fox Cricket commentator and Aussie batting great Mark Waugh said it seemed to him that Bancroft was making a "little bit of an excuse".
"The one thing I couldn't quite understand was he said he didn't really know right from wrong," Waugh said.
"That seems to me to be a little bit of an excuse, given that he's played first-class cricket for a long time, and Test cricket.
"But the fact that he thought he had to do it to fit into the team, it's a bit of a sad reflection on what was going on."
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor slammed the reason behind the interviews, arguing they don't need to be rehashed for the sake of clearing the way for their returns.
In an interview with Wide World of Sports, Taylor said it was just telling the same story over again.
"Everyone's going to rehash the story, rewrite them again, about what happened," he said.
"Everyone's going to say that they need to 'clear the air' but I don't think they do. The air in my opinion is clear.
"We know the story, we know what's gone on, the players at the end of their suspensions will have done their time having done the crime. To me it's now a matter of them getting on and playing some good cricket."
Meanwhile, Darren Lehmann, who was the Aussie coach at the time, told Macquarie Sports Radio he would have wanted Bancroft to go to the coaching staff if he was uncomfortable with the directions given by Warner.
"Yeah he could've and should've (come to the coaches)..." Lehmann said.
"He should've come to us, at the end of the day it was a mistake - we know that. (It was) a severe mistake made by the guys and a lot of people have suffered one way or the other through that.
"We know it shouldn't have happened, but it did."
THE WARNER RESPONSE
The discussion led to speculation about what may be coming next.
The only player to remain quiet so far is David Warner and on Cricket 360, Gerard Whateley and Robert Craddock speculated about the response.
Craddock admitted Warner had the power to "detonate everything" and sees no other way for him back into the national set up.
The pair said the interviews placed Warner in an unenviable position.
"For me it leaves him classically wedged," Whateley said.
"I don't see how he can remain silent about it, I don't see how he can make his return to cricket without answering the pertinent questions.
"He either admits that version of events is right and is collared for the dastardly act of concocting the cheating action all on his own or he says 'that's not quite the way that it unfolded', in which case you've got a burning house again."
Craddock said Warner's return is not a certainty with plenty of questions still to answer.
"He is trapped between the past and the present," Craddock added.
"If he tells all he knows, it could really detonate everything. If he sits on his hands and says 'oh no, as you found out it was all me, it was all my fault' - can he live with himself?
"Here's the interesting thing, Australia will spend four months in England next year with the World Cup and the Ashes. Four days on tour with a fragmented team is a long time - can Warner and these guys who he is struggling with in the team, can they really spend four months together? Given the tension between Warner and his teammates who have just given him up and said it's your fault."
Gilchrist was on Cricket 360 and encouraged Warner to open up.
"There's no doubt David Warner would be feeling so isolated right now," he said.
"I would encourage Dave to come out wherever and just be honest and as open as you need to be to get back to playing cricket."
Social media went wild following the revealing interviews.
Personally Cameron Bancroft is more guilty for Sandpaper Gate today then he was yesterday if @davidwarner31 tells him to put his head in a fire does he just do it, so his mates like him! Doesn’t wash! We all make mistakes fess up and carry on more tomorrow on @TheTodayShow— Tim Gilbert (@TimgGilbert) December 26, 2018
Bancroft’s farcical explanation shows he still doesn’t get it, and hasn’t taken full responsibility for what he did. No decent sportsperson, in the history of professionalism sport, would ever be disappointed a teammate didn’t cheat.— Ben Cameron (@BenCameron4) December 26, 2018
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