On this day in 2018: Bancroft and Steve Smith admit to ball-tampering

Five years ago, on March 24, 2018, Cricket Australia witnessed one of the darkest moments in their cricket. During the Day 3 of the third Test against South Africa at Cape Town’s Newlands, Cameron Bancroft used sandpaper on the ball to add more swing. But his act was caught on camera and then misery followed him and his teammates.

The series was level 1-1 and the hosts were dominating the third Test. Australian bowlers were struggling at the moment and that provoked the team to tamper the ball. Bancroft used sandpaper on a ball but official broadcasters caught his act on a big screen and repeatedly played a reply. After realizing his act with the ball has caught the camera’s eye, Bancroft tried to hide the sandpaper in his trousers.

Smith confesses in the Sandpaper saga

Umpires approached the player but he initially denied the ball-tampering. The officials continued the day’s play without changing a ball. But at the end of the day, Bancroft and the team’s captain Steve Smith admitted to ball-tampering in the post-match presser. After five days, Smith confirmed it was sandpaper and revealed that the leadership group planned this during lunch break.

After a quick initial investigation, the ICC fined Smith 100% of his match fee in addition to four demerit points to his record and a ban for the next Test match. Bancroft was fined 75% of the match fee and three demerit points. 

But the next day, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland confirmed that Smith and his deputy David Warner will stand down as captain and vice-captain for the remainder of the third Test. The Australian cricket board further investigated the matter following a media outrage from the cricket world. 

On March 28, the board handed a 12-month international and domestic ban to Smith and Warner. The board also announced that Warner will not be considered for leadership positions again and Smith will not be considered for the same for a minimum of 12 months after his suspension. However, Bancroft was fined with a 9-month ban from international and domestic cricket as the investigation committee found that the player was instructed to use sandpaper by Warner.