The head of production for SuperSport has described how Australia’s Cameron Bancroft was caught in the act of tampering with the ball on day three of the third Test at Newlands.
Australia’s Bancroft was seen on television placing yellow sticky tape, which he used to pick up rough granules off the pitch, down the front of his trousers when he believed his cheating ways had been spotted by match referee, Andy Pycroft.
At the end of the day’s play, skipper Steve Smith admitted to journalists that Bancroft was acting on the orders of the team’s ‘leadership group’. As a result, Smith’s future hangs in the balance, as does that of vice-captain David Warner.
Smith will miss the final Test at the Wanderers after being suspended for one match by the ICC, while Cricket Australia is expected to keep Warner out of the game as well.
SuperSport’s head of production Alvin Naicker believes Bancroft would have got away with it had it not been for the broadcaster’s cameramen.
‘We initially just saw that he had something in his hand and he put it in his pocket, but we didn’t know what it was,’ Naicker said during a radio interview on Monday.
‘It was only when he later panicked and put it in his underpants that we got sight of the yellow tape.’
‘The moment he tried to dispose of it in his pants, we knew that this was a major incident. Until then, we were not sure what we were looking at.’
Naicker added they had not been tracking Bancroft specifically, but it is standard for the broadcaster to follow the ball from player to player, even when it is not in play.
‘We have seven cameras that stay with the ball always, whether it is in play or not,’
‘But there are a lot more cameras, we had 30 at the ground, 18 of which are manned while the other 12 are static and used for lbw referrals and square-leg run outs,’ Naicker confirmed.
Naicker says they broadcasted the footage of him rubbing the ball with the — then unknown — object almost immediately after the incident.
‘He [Bancroft] probably saw it two minutes after it happened and very smartly our cameraman focused on the coaching staff and we saw their coach [Darren Lehmann] get on the walkie-talkie to a player down on the field [Peter Handscomb], who ran on to speak with Bancroft. It was then, [when] he panicked.’
Naicker said the ‘follow the ball’ policy was done in every Test and they were neither asked to do it, nor were driven by any other previous suspicious behaviour.
‘We don’t want it to seem like we are going after the Australian team,’ he said.
‘If that was a South African, we would have broadcast the footage for sure… We have a responsibility to entertain, but just like journalists we have a moral obligation to provide unbiased editorial.’
The cameraman given the credit for exposing the biggest cheating scandal to rock Australian cricket is Zothani Oscar Simelane, who has a quirky habit of wearing a suit on the first day of every Test he covers.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images