Australia's Cameron Bancroft in hot water over dodgy ball-shining method

Sudhir Gupta 24/03/2018
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Umpires ask Bancroft about the object he used to shine the ball at Newlands.

The Australian team found itself in hot water after Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera carrying a foreign object in his trouser while shining the ball during the third Test in Cape Town on Saturday.

In the 43rd over of South Africa’s innings, the umpires asked Bancroft to show what item he put in his pocket after shining the ball as footage was shown of the Aussie batsman acting in a suspicious manner. Bancroft was also shown taking the said object – a small yellow piece – out of his trouser pocket and putting it in his underpants. However, the umpires were shown a different item used to shine the ball, not the yellow object stuffed in Bancroft’s trouser.

Allegations of ball tampering flew thick and fast with Aussie great Shane Warne saying the player has been caught on camera and there is no way out of it. “He has been caught and needs to own up,” Warne said during the tea-break analysis.

However, the on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth didn’t change the ball or award five penalty runs to South Africa, which is standard procedure for incidents involving deliberately changing the condition of the ball using a foreign object.

In 2016, South Africa’s current captain Faf du Plessis was found guilty by match referee Andy Pycroft of ‘changing the condition of the ball’ after being caught on camera applying saliva to it with a mint in his mouth during a Test in Hobart against Australia. He was fined 100 per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points.

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Virat Kohli set to join Surrey for maiden county stint ahead of England tour

Sudhir Gupta 24/03/2018
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Kohli will become the first Indian to play for Surrey.

India captain Virat Kohli has opted to play county cricket for the first time in his career in a bid to improve his dismal record in England,  according to a report by the Times of India.

Kohli, 29, is now set to travel to England after completing his Indian Premier League (IPL) engagements with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in June to join up with Surrey.

In doing do, Kohli will become the first Indian player to sign up with the county outfit from south London.

The batting maestro has struggled previously while batting on English conditions, scoring only 134 runs in five Tests so far at a miserly average of 13.40. India will be undertaking a long tour of England this summer, playing five Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is with the first Test set to get under way on August 1.

This means that Kohli will miss India’s lone Test against Afghanistan in June, which will be the historic first for the war-torn country after gaining full ICC membership last year.

Kohli's record in England leaves a lot to be desired.

Kohli’s record in England leaves a lot to be desired.

Kohli has spoken about his desire to play county cricket previously, though his engagements with the national team and the IPL have mean he’s been unable to do so until now.

Only last month, former World Cup winning skipper Kapil Dev had urged Kohli to take up a stint in county cricket to better prepare himself for the tour of England.

Surrey are scheduled to play three four-day matches against Hampshire, Somerset and Yorkshire in the month of June, all of which Kohli could feature in. He will be joined in his county stint by Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma who had signed up for Yorkshire and Sussex respectively earlier.

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Batting coach Graham Thorpe tells shell-shocked England batsmen that they can still redeem themselves in Auckland Test

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Thorpe believes England's batsmen can turn it around.

England‘s ‘shell-shocked’ batsmen are being told they still have a chance to redeem themselves in the first Test against New Zealand.

It is batting coach Graham Thorpe‘s task to ready England for some much-needed defiance over the last two days of the series opener as their hosts scent victory, despite the rain, after bowling them out for just 58 in their first innings.

Only 17 balls were possible on day three at Eden Park, to add to 23.1 overs on the second, robbing the Kiwis of the opportunity to extend their yawning advantage.

But after Henry Nicholls (52no) had nonetheless completed his painstaking half-century in a total of 233 for four, for a lead of 175, Thorpe and his fellow coaches must restore England’s self-belief.

Asked if Joe Root‘s team were shell-shocked after being shot out by Trent Boult and Tim Southee in just 20.4 overs on the first morning, Thorpe said: “Yes, there is a lot of (that).

“You’re playing for your country and you get rocked over like that – it dents your pride.

“But you can’t feel sorry for yourself for too long because the next day is coming. You can’t just run into the hills or hide under the bed.”

Thorpe is not above referencing his own relevant experience as a former England batsman who was part of the 1993/94 collapse to 46 all out in Trinidad but also helped to win the following Test against West Indies’ brilliant pace attack.

“I know how you feel lads – don’t worry about it!” he said, with a half-smile.

Boult picked up six wickets as England folded for just 58 in their first innings.

Boult picked up six wickets as England folded for just 58 in their first innings.

“The mind is the most important thing, so my life experience can come into play a bit.

“Technique is one thing, but actually most important is getting your head back into the battle of the match.

“We’ve still got quite a lot of work to do in this Test match, but they can redeem themselves by putting in a top-class performance in the second innings.

“That is what it will have to be to get out of this Test match.”

He still has faith.

“There is enough character in that dressing-room, and they have been through experiences before as well, and you have to dust yourself down and get on with the next day.

“The rain has helped us a little bit but we have to bat a damn sight better than we did.”

Thorpe has been careful to strike a balance which does not over-load with mid-match technical advice.

“It is a tough thing to sit on people’s shoulders and peck away in their ear telling them what to do.

“They are international players and for the amount of times and the amount of experience our lads have against the moving ball you would like to think that, while not everyone will come to grips with it, you would get a couple of partnerships in that situation.”

On Thursday, it did not work out like that.

“Sometimes these things happen. They shake up the dressing-room and they shake up the individuals as well, and we hope we get a response second innings,” added Thorpe.

“Maybe with a bit of the weather around, it has given the guys a bit of a glimmer in the match itself.

“With two days to go, we still have a chance.”

Southee, meanwhile, is understandably just hoping the rain relents.

“The rain’s been frustrating, but the work we did on day one has made that easier to swallow. (It’s) lucky the game is advanced,” he said.

“It was a great day, a bizarre day that we can sit back and enjoy.”

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