Ball-tampering row: Steve Smith of 'brain fade' fame now admits to cheating

Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft during press conference at Cape Town. Photo: @ICC
The Australian cricket team and Captain Steve Smith are again in the news for the wrong reasons. After their much ridiculed ‘brain fade’ incident against India, this time it is for ball tampering on the third day of the Cape Town Test against South Africa. The protagonist this time are Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith himself.

The ongoing test series between South Africa and Australia has been marred by controversies – both on and off the field. First it was the spat between David Warner and Quinton De Kock in the opening test. Then we saw Kasigo Rabada rubbing shoulders – pun unintended – with Steve Smith in the second. And now, Australia’s Cameron Bancroft was seen rubbing the ball with a small yellow object shortly before tea break in the third.

After the end of the day’s play Australian captain Steve Smith admitted that his side deliberately tried to tamper the condition of the ball to gain an advantage over South Africa.

Smith told the reporters that it was a deliberate plan from the "leadership group" during the lunch break. “The leadership group knew about it, we spoke about it at lunch,” Smith said. “I am not proud of what has happened. It is not in the spirit of the game, my integrity and the integrity of the team has been damaged, and rightfully so. It’s not on and it won’t happen again, I can promise you.”

Match referee Andy Pycroft charged Cameron Bancroft with a Level 2 offence for attempting to alter the condition of the ball. The Australian might get penalised: The possible sanctions include a fine of 50-100% of his match fee, and a three or four demerit points added to his record. Four demerit points would trigger an automatic one-test ban.

Watch the press conference where Steve Smith admitted to deliberately tampering with the ball:

How the incident unfolded

In the second session of the third day of the third test, shortly before the tea break, television footage showed Bancroft using a small yellow object before shinning the ball. He was then shown putting the object down on the front of his trousers before speaking to on-field officials Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth.

After the play, Bancroft admitted that it was a piece of tape with chunks of the pitch on the sticky side, used to roughen the ball in an effort to generate reverse swing.

Steve Smith’s much ridiculed brain fade incident in India

The Australian captain admitted that he played the gentleman’s game in the wrong spirit. But this was not the first time that the ethics of the Australian cricket camp were in question. Among many such issues, the most recent one is from last year, when Australia toured India. Smith was seen looking to the dressing room for instructions on whether or not to go for a review against the original decision when he was declared out leg-before-wicket on an Umesh Yadav delivery. 

Smith was seen lingering on and the umpire Nigel Llong had to touch his shoulder and indicate he should be on his way since he had not called for a review.

At the post-match press conference, Smith refrained himself from calling himself a cheat, and instead said it was a brain fade. “It was a bit of a brain fade on my part. Probably this is the first time it has happened. It was probably a brain fade. But it shouldn’t have happened.”

Watch Steve Smith’s ‘brain fade’ incident in the 2017 Pune test:

 

DRS - Dressing room review system? Smith tries to get some suggestions from the dressing room for a review https://t.co/2V488WaKEp #INDvAUS

— BCCI (@BCCI) March 7, 2017