A couple of years ago, one incident completely tarnished the reputations of two of the most well-known Australian cricketers in modern era cricket and the dreams of an aspiring cricketer to make it at the international level.
The infamous ‘sandpaper gate’ took place back in 2018 during Australia’s tour of South Africa. Since then, the three main culprits whose names were brought forward at the time of the enquiry, namely, David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have been humiliated, suspended, and allowed to play cricket once again.March 25, 2018
However, a new interview in The Guardian with the man who was caught red handed by the cameramen, Bancroft has revealed some new information that even has experienced cricket analysts scratching their heads.
"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 told The Guardian when asked whether some of the bowlers knew about the tactics at play.
When asked again whether the bowlers knew, Bancroft said: "Uh ... yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it's pretty probably self-explanatory."
Bancroft pretty clearly implied how there might be more than just these three players who knew about the potential ball-tampering going on within the roster and how none of the teammates were willing to stop them or act as whistleblowers.
"I invested too much to the point where I lost control of my values. What had become important to me was being liked, being well valued, feeling really important to my teammates, like I was contributing something by using sandpaper on a cricket ball," he said.
Such revelations even left the ‘Voice of Indian Cricket’ Harsha Bhogle struggling to make sense of what was going on on the ground back in 2018.
Cam Bancroft might have revealed a little bit more than before, something talked about informally on the circuit, about SandpaperGate. "Were the bowlers aware?" It is "self-explanatory" he says. That can't mean a no, surely.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 15, 2021
Although, England veteran Andrew Flingtoff had spoken about this exact problem (of whether or not the bowlers knew about the plan) around the time when the incident was fresh.
Bringing this gem from Freddie back.. Starc bit always cracks me up. pic.twitter.com/3F4nFDrzoe— Sandy (@ThatWickedGuy_) May 15, 2021
"That's something I don't think I even understood until that mistake happened. But it's part of the journey and a hard lesson I needed to learn."
Back when the incident had just taken place, Smith had talked about how a toxic environment was created within the Australia dressing room and how the then Cricket Australia executives James Sutherland and Pat Howard had instilled a “win at all cost” feeling within the players, even if it meant going against the spirit of the game.
"I think back to Hobart when we lost there against South Africa (November 2016) and it was our fifth straight loss in Test cricket I think after three Tests in Sri Lanka. And I remember James Sutherland and Pat Howard coming into the rooms there and actually saying 'We don't pay you to play, we pay you to win'," Smith had confessed to Adam Gilchrist back in 2018.