Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft revealed he considered giving up cricket to become a yoga teacher after the ball-tampering scandal that rocked the cricketing world.
Bancroft received a nine-month ban from international and domestic cricket for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier in the year where he used sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball. Then-captain Steve Smith and deputy David Warner were suspended for a year.
A day after Smith held a press conference in Sydney, Bancroft also broken his silence. His ban runs out in a week.
Bancroft decided to do that through a letter addressed to his former self, which was published in the West Australian newspaper.
In it, Bancroft talked about the major influence Australian coach Justin Langer has had on him, along with West Australian mentor Adam Voges. He said a crucial moment was when Voges asked him to justify why he should be on a pre-season trip to Brisbane with the Western Warriors Sheffield Shield team.
“On your way to present your case to your coach you realise this is the moment when you begin to become OK with the thought of never having cricket as part of your life again,” he wrote in the letter.
“Until you are able to acknowledge that you are Cameron Bancroft, the person who plays cricket as a profession, and not Cameron Bancroft the cricketer, you will not be able to move forward. This will become a defining moment for you.”
Bancroft revealed yoga became an important part of his life while dealing with the ramifications of the ban. In fact, at one point he considered quitting the game to become of a yoga teacher.
“Maybe cricket isn’t for you, you’ll ask yourself … will you return? Yoga will be such a fulfilling experience,” he wrote.
Bancroft ultimately decided to return to cricket and is set to make his comeback in the Big Bash Twenty20 League for the Perth Scorchers on December 30.
“While you do not look that different, on the inside you are a vastly different man to the bloke who made that mistake in South Africa,” he added in the letter. “You know you cannot say sorry enough, but actually it is time you allow your cricket to be about what you have learnt and use this opportunity to make a great impact.”
Australian veteran coach Dav Whatmore has backed the long-term captaincy of Tim Paine, who has steered the Australia team during turbulent times with authority.
Paine is the stand-in captain for Australia after Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended for 12 months for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier in the year. When their suspensions end next year, Smith will have to wait one year before being considered for a leadership role while Warner has been banned from captaincy for life.
Paine, who was one the verge of quitting cricket and taking up a corporate job at equipment giants Kookaburra, has marshalled his troops well since taking over the role. His Australian team earned a respectable draw in the Dubai Test against Pakistan in October and have now squared the four-Test series against India at home 1-1 after a close defeat in Adelaide and a thumping win in Perth.
Whatmore, who has coached Sri Lanka, Pakistan and is currently guiding the Kerala state Ranji Trophy team in India, said Paine has done admirably in the hot seat and should find himself in that role in the longer run.
“Yes, I think so (Paine deserves longer run). Steve Smith will came right back in; he may need a few side games. He won’t get the leadership, I am pretty sure about it. Paine has done a very good job with the team he has got,” Whatmore, who was in Dubai to oversee a special winter training camp by Kricket’s Spero, told Sport360.
“In the short space of time, he has created a very positive image, trying to change the culture and what the team stands for. He himself has also been very strong. He won’t take a backward step but he is doing it the right way.”
Whatmore said the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is turning out to be a lot more competitive than some expected because of Australia’s strong bowling attack.
“You have got a good team travelling well, in India. And you have a team at home who are used to the conditions better. Now you have a good competition going. One-all, it will be a beauty at Melbourne. Batting has let Australia down. Still there is a long way to go for it to be a good Australian batting team. But it is even. The contest is lot closer than most people think,” he added.
The coin toss was replaced by the more ‘traditional’ bat flip in the Big Bash League.
As Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers prepared to clash at the Gabba on Wednesday, captains Chris Lynn and Colin Ingram came out for the toss and were greeted by former Australia batsman Matthew Hayden with a redesigned bat for the flip – a practice common in children’s backyard cricket.
The bat has a ‘hills’ and a ‘flats’ side with organisers promising no distinct advantage on the flip.
“For me it’s a great moment which reflects what BBL is about,” said Kim McConnie, Cricket Australia’s head of the Big Bash League.
“Some people don’t like change but I’d also challenge people to say when was the last time anyone watched the coin toss or really focused on it to a great extent? Now we are making it much more relevant to families, we are creating a moment which is much more fitting with kids.”
The Big Bash first introduced flashing stumps which light up when the bails are dislodged. The league was also the first to experiment with player microphones – with commentators chatting with players – and helmet cameras.