David Saker. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SYDNEY: David Saker, who was Australia bowling coach at the time of Sandpaper Gate, on Sunday, said that the entire scandal can be reinvestigated but he is not too sure what’s going to come out if it is indeed looked into again.
His remarks came as Cricket Australia (CA) on Saturday said it is open to reinvestigating the Sandpaper Gate if there is anyone who has more knowledge about the matter.
This announcement from the board came after opening batsman Cameron Bancroft hinted that there had to be wider knowledge about ball-tampering during the ‘Sandpaper Gate’ incident in 2018 in the Cape Town Test between Australia and South Africa than just the trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and the opener himself.
“Obviously a lot of things went wrong at that time. The finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on. There were a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate. Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last,” Saker told Sydney Morning Herald.
“You could point your finger at me, you could point your finger at Boof (then coach Darren Lehmann), could you point it at other people, of course you could. The disappointing thing is it’s never going to go away. Regardless of what’s said. We all know that we made a monumental mistake. The gravity wasn’t as plain until it all came out,” he added.
Asked about his thoughts on reinvestigation of the scandal, Saker said: “I don’t think it’d be unfair. I just don’t know what they’re going to find out. It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away.”
In March 2018, Bancroft was caught on camera trying to change the condition of the ball using sandpaper in a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. The incident later went on to be labelled as the ‘Sandpaper Gate’ and is considered as one of the darkest moments in the history of Australian cricket.
Bancroft, who is playing county cricket in Durham, said it was ‘probably self-explanatory’ whether the bowlers were aware that the ball was being tampered with.
“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part. Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” Bancroft said to the Guardian interviewer Donald McRae as reported by ESPNcricinfo.
“I guess one thing I learnt through the journey and being responsible is that’s where the buck stops (with Bancroft himself). Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision,” he added.
When he was further stressed, Bancroft replied: “Uh… yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.”
On the third day of the match, Bancroft was caught on camera trying to alter the condition of the ball. As soon as the clip was shown on television, it went viral on social media and the entire cricketing fraternity condemned the act.
After the conclusion of the day’s play, Bancroft and then Australia skipper Steve Smith admitted that they did tamper with the ball. David Warner’s involvement in the act was also confirmed. Australia went on to lose the match and Cricket Australia took some bold calls as they first removed Smith and Warner as the captain and vice-captain of the side.
Later, the Australian cricket board handed a one-year ban to both Smith and Warner, while Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension. Australia coach Darren Lehmann also resigned after the episode.