Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft and captain Steve Smith admitted to ball-tampering against South Africa during the third Test on Saturday, with the issue of players cheating by changing the condition of the ball rearing its ugly head again.
Here we look at five previous ball-tampering scandals in Test cricket:
Faf du Plessis, Australia v South Africa, 2016
Australia’s current opponents South Africa have had players found guilty of similar incidents three times in the last five years, including captain Faf du Plessis. The batsman was caught on camera sucking on a sweet during the second Test in Hobart, before using his saliva to shine the ball. Despite no accusations from Australia, the ICC found Du Plessis guilty and fined him 100 percent of his match fee. He avoided a ban and responded with a hundred in the following match.
Faf du Plessis, Pakistan v South Africa, 2013
Du Plessis was also charged for using a foreign object to change the condition of the ball in a 2013 clash against Pakistan in Dubai. He appeared to rub the ball against the zip on his trouser pocket, and was fined 50 percent of his match fee. South Africa again landed in hot water a year later when bowler Vernon Philander was found guilty of “scratching the ball with his fingers and thumb”.
England v Pakistan, 2006
Maybe the most infamous ball-tampering controversy in recent memory ended with Pakistan forfeiting their Test against England at The Oval 12 years ago. Umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove gave England five penalty runs after ruling that Pakistan had tampered with the ball, leaving the tourists incensed. Inzamam ul-Haq’s side refused to take the field after the tea break in protest, and the umpires awarded the match to England, the first forfeiture in Test history. Pakistan were later cleared of ball-tampering by the ICC, with the governing body also controversially changing the result of the match to a draw.
Sachin Tendulkar, South Africa v India, 2001
Indian great Sachin Tendulkar was handed a one-match ban by match referee Mike Denness after a game against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Television footage appeared to show Tendulkar scuffing the seam of the ball, but he was actually only removing a piece of grass. There was serious backlash from Indian fans against Denness, with allegations of racism. The ICC eventually cleared Tendulkar of any wrongdoing, but the following third Test had its Test status revoked as the Indian cricket board refused to accept Denness as the match referee.
Mike Atherton, England v South Africa, 1994
Then-England captain Mike Atherton was accused of ball-tampering for taking a substance from his pocket and rubbing it on the ball. He denied the allegations, saying he used some dirt from his pocket to dry his hands. He was not charged with ball-tampering and instead fined £2,000 for failing to disclose the dirt to the match referee. Despite calls for the opening batsman to resign, Atherton stayed on as England skipper full-time until 1998.
Bancroft was caught on television cameras appearing to rub a yellow object on the ball, and later said: “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want to be here (in the press conference) because I want to be accountable for my actions.”
Smith added: “The leadership group knew about it.”
Television footage showed Bancroft, 25, take on object out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session on the third day of the Test at Newlands.
He was spoken to by umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth during the 43rd over of South Africa’s second innings after appearing to have the object in his hand after fielding the ball at cover.
While the umpires were conferring, Bancroft then appeared to place a small yellow object in his underpants.
When the umpires went across to talk to him he reached into a pocket and showed them what seemed to be a different object — a soft pouch for sunglasses.
The umpires took no action and did not change the ball.
Oh no ! Bancroft. Very embarrassing. From the looks of it, this is not on. Haven't seen a series marred by controversies like this one in a long long time. The Cricket has been great, but this .. #SAvAUS pic.twitter.com/2uNhxtBXTv— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) March 24, 2018
There were boos from a capacity crowd at Newlands when the incident was shown on the big screen at the ground.
Both Bancroft and Smith, who took over the Australian captaincy in 2015, appeared before the media after the match and admitted that they had attempted to change the condition of the ball.
“We had a discussion during the break. On myself I saw an opportunity to use some yellow tape and the granules from the rough patches of the wicket to change the condition of the ball,” said opening batsman Bancroft who is playing in his eighth Test.
“It didn’t work, the umpires didn’t change the ball. We have this yellow tape in our kit. The actual sticky stuff itself is very sticky so I felt it could be used to collect some stuff from the side of the pitch.”
Smith now faces calls for his resignation after admitting that Bancroft did not act alone.
“The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch. I’m not proud of what happened. It’s not in the spirit of the game,” said the skipper.
Opener Aiden Markram scored a defiant 84 as the Proteas took their lead to 294 with five wickets in hand after the hosts dismissed Australia for 255 early on Saturday morning.
Here we analyse the performance of Markram during a pivotal day of the four-Test series.
RUNS SCORED: 84
BALLS FACED: 145
STRIKE RATE: 57.9
The South African opener is only 23 but showed maturity beyond his years to thwart the Aussie pace attack and put the South Africans in a comfortable position on Day Three of the third Test. He was dropped twice and made the most of the reprieves, scoring an invaluable 84 that all but secured the Cape Town Test for the hosts.
Was dropped on zero off Mitchell Starc. But didn’t take a step back against the left-armer who got the new ball to shape in, which has been a rarity in the third Test. Latched onto anything remotely lose, hitting ten boundaries and two sixes to maintain a strike rate of close to sixty that kept the game moving along.
Didn’t convert a fifty into a big knock. Right before the tea break, chipped a dolly off Starc to mid-on. Gave the Aussies an outside opportunity to get back into the game. Needs to learn that when it’s your day, you need to make the most of it and block every escape route for the opposition.
Markram offered two chances during his innings. First in the opening over against Starc when he edged a full delivery to gully where Usman Khawaja grassed the ball after going for it with one hand and then on 59, when Steve Smith went for an edge off Josh Hazlewood at second slip but couldn’t cling onto the ball.
Starc was getting the new ball to shape in and credit to Markram for playing as straight and late as he possibly could. While he did play a few lose strokes against most bowlers, the fact that he stopped Starc from finding any wicket-taking rhythm with the new ball was worth a lot more than the runs he scored.
PRAISE FROM KOHLI
Aiden Markram is a delight to watch!— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) March 24, 2018
Markram is held in very high regard in South Africa, which is why he was made the limited-overs captain during the India series. His technique and temperament have been recognised earlier and on Saturday, India captain Virat Kohli joined the Markram appreciation society as he tweeted his delight at watching the South African in action. Don’t think you can get a bigger stamp of approval in cricket.
It’s not just about how many you score. It’s also about when you do it. Markram scored a crucial fifty when the series was in the balance with the hosts gaining a 56-run first innings lead. Early wickets and the Australians would have been right in the mix. But his diligence, aided by loose fielding from the visitors, gave the South Africans a healthy lead at Newlands. Top effort from a young batsman.