Australian legend Steve Waugh has released a statement expressing his shock at the ball-tampering controversy that has engulfed their contest against South Africa.
Opener Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera tampering with the ball during day three of the third Test at Newlands — which the Proteas won by a convincing margin of 322 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
At the end of the day’s play, skipper Steve Smith admitted that Bancroft had acted according to the request of the team’s ‘leadership group’, and will miss the final Test at the Wanderers having been handed a one-match suspension by the ICC. His deputy David Warner is also expected to miss the game.
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The incident has since been described as the ‘biggest scandal to rock Australian cricket in decades’.
Steve Waugh, who captained Australia between 1998 and 2004, took to his official Facebook page to express his disappointment at the saga that unfolded at Newlands.
‘Like many, I’m deeply troubled by the events in Cape Town this last week, and acknowledge the thousands of messages I have received, mostly from heartbroken cricket followers worldwide,’ wrote the legendary Waugh.
‘The Australian Cricket team has always believed it could win in any situation [and] against any opposition, by playing combative, skilful and fair cricket, driven by our pride in the fabled Baggy Green,’ he said.
‘I have no doubt the current Australian team continues to believe in this mantra, however, some have now failed our culture, making a serious error of judgement in the Cape Town Test Match.
‘In 2003, we modified the Spirit of Cricket document originally created by the MCC, to empower our players to set their own standards and commit to play the Australian way.
‘We must urgently revisit this document, re-bind our players to it and ensure the spirit in which we play is safeguarded for the future of the sport, and to continue to inspire the dreams of every young kid picking up a bat and ball and for every fan who lives and breathes the game.’
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He continued: ‘A focused and balanced perspective is needed in the condemnation on those involved in this, with a clear and critical consideration to the social impact and mental health of all players.
I will support all positive action to ensure an outcome for the betterment of the game, regaining the trust and faith of every fan of cricket,’ wrote Waugh.
Cricket Australia is expected to announce further sanctions against every player involved in the saga by Wednesday.
Photo: Dominique Faget/Getty Images