Australia’s credibility on the line, says Bacher

  • JackSportBacher
It will take Australian cricket years to regain the respect of the cricketing world, following the ball-tampering incident at Newlands in Cape Town over the weekend.
by JACK MILNER | Mar 29, 2018

That is the view of former South African captain and chairman of the SA Cricket Board Dr Ali Bacher.

“It was insanity what they did,” said Bacher. “There are so many TV cameras around the grounds, watching every moment of the game. You have to be out of your mind to try to tamper with the ball.

“Maybe 30 or 40 years ago you would have got away with it, but not today. Those chaps are going to battle to sleep for the rest of their lives. It is most damaging to Australian cricket and it will take years for them to regain any credibility.”

The incident blew up over the weekend when cameras caught Cameron Bancroft, Australia’s newest Test cricketer, scuffing the ball with masking tape. Once it became clear that he was cheating, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner admitted their roles in the incident.

Late on Tuesday, it was announced that the three offenders would be sent home. Smith has been stripped of the captaincy and faces a one-year ban from the game.

It was former SA bowler Fanie de Villiers who noticed something amiss when the ball was passed from the wicketkeeper to Bancroft, who then held the ball in the palm of his hand before passing it back to the bowler. De Villiers advised the camera to stay focused on Bancroft and eventually, they saw Bancroft attempting to doctor the ball with a piece of tape.

Bacher explained the effects of scuffing the ball. “If you play a Test match and you have a ball which is 45 overs old, the seam is a bit flat, the shine is off and it’s easier for the batsman to score runs.

“By doing two things – shining one side of the ball and then roughing up the other side – all of a sudden a fast bowler, out of nowhere, runs in to bowl and while it looks to be swinging away, it suddenly reverses quickly and comes in to you. At a rapid speed it changes direction.

“It’s strange when you have a ball that is not doing much and from nowhere, changes. That’s why it is so wrong and unfair.

“It only works with a fast bowler, nobody knows why. It wasn’t part of the game when I played. It’s a relatively new phenomenon.”

Bacher does have sympathy for Bancroft, who was only playing in his seventh Test match. “He’s new and he follows what the captain tells him. I just hope Cricket Australia show him some leniency.

“Over the decades, Australia has been the best cricketing nation but very few Test players have been on their Cricket board. It is made up mainly of club players, but my experience is that they take their responsibility seriously.

There have been people who compared this to the famous “bodyline” Ashes series in 1933, in which the English team, under captain Douglas Jardine, devised a form of bowling intended to intimidate the batsman.

A bodyline delivery was one where the cricket ball was bowled at the body of the batsman, in the hope that when he defended himself with his bat, a resulting deflection could be caught by one of several fielders standing close by. This was considered by critics as being unfair in a game that was supposed to uphold gentlemanly traditions.

“The bodyline tactics were engineered because of Australian batsman Donald Bradman. He broke all records in England in 1930, and they were looking for a way to neutralise him,” said Bacher.

“It worked. But what they did was within the laws of the game.”


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