Bancroft family supporting Cameron over ball-tampering row

Cameron Bancroft in action.
Cameron Bancroft in action.

The family of disgraced Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft believe the former Denby CC player has been made a scapegoat after he was caught ball-tampering in the Test defeat by South Africa.

Bancroft was seen rubbing the ball with yellow tape during the game and has since been fined while captain Steve Smith has been banned from the final Test after admitting he and a ‘leadership group’ put Bancroft up to the cheating.

The youngster, who played for Denby in 2013, still has family locally in Heath and Pilsley, and they are hoping this incident won’t damage his chances of a return to England this summer.

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Great uncle Brian Bancroft, of Heath, said: “As you’ve seen on the TV, the captain and vice-captain decided to rub the ball and dedicated Cameron to do the job.

“He’s got caught doing it and has been fined, but because they dictated he should do it, he hasn’t been fined as much.

“Whether it will make any difference to him coming over here or not I don’t know.

“He is supposed to come to Somerset this year so I don’t know if they will change their mind or if they will give him a chance and say ‘we hope you never do that again’.”

Bancroft added: “I think Cameron has been a scapegoat. I know it must be hard, as he’s only 25, to say to your own gaffer – no I’m not doing that.

“He’s only just more or less got into the side. It’s a pity he wasn’t strong enough to say ‘bugger off, I’m not going to do it’.

“It’s easy to condemn people. You’re not as big as your gaffer when you’re out there so you do as you are told.

“We can’t get in touch with him so we don’t know how he’s feeling at the moment.”

Bancroft was a regular in Denby CC’s side back in 2013 when he first came to England to aid his development whilst also playing for Western Australia, whom he still represents.

He scored over 1,000 runs for Denby in his time there before returning home and impressing enough to make the Test team for last November’s Ashes series.

Cameron Bancroft told a press conference: “I will deal with the damage that comes to my reputation as a consequence.

“I don’t think I was coerced. I was nervous about it because there hundreds of cameras around.

“Unfortunately I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I am accountable for my actions as well. I’m not proud of what has happened.

“I saw an opportunity to potentially use some tape and get some granules from the rough patches on the wicket and I guess try to change the ball condition.

“It didn’t work. The umpires didn’t change the ball. Once I was sighted on the screen having done that I panicked quite a lot and that obviously resulted in me shoving (the tape) down my trousers.”

Reverse swing has been a major part of the series, and players can increase that by roughing up the ball with foreign objects, which is strictly prohibited in cricket.

Australia, who were falling a long way behind in the game, appeared desperate for wickets to turn it around.

The row took place on the third day in Cape Town.

Smith said after play it was a ‘big mistake’ and has been banned for one match and fined his entire match fee.

He admitted the team’s ‘leadership group’ had a plan, carried out by Bancroft, to tamper with the ball to “get an advantage” though did not expand on who else was involved.

Smith admitted a charge of conduct ‘of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game’.

Soon after the Australians lost 10 wickets in the final session of day four to lose the third Test by 322 runs.

Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, says it was ‘beyond belief’ that the national cricket team was involved in ‘cheating’.

The final match of the ill-tempered series begins in Johannesburg on Friday.