Embarrassed Australia admits ball tampering in stunning confession

Cameron Bancroft talks to the umpire on the third day of the third Test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands Stadium. (AP Photo)
Updated 24 March 2018
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Embarrassed Australia admits ball tampering in stunning confession

CAPE TOWN: Australia captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft sensationally admitted to ball-tampering during the third Test against South Africa on Saturday, plunging cricket into potentially its greatest crisis.
Bancroft was caught on television cameras appearing to rub a yellow object on the ball, and later said: "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want to be here (in the press conference) because I want to be accountable for my actions."
Smith added: "The leadership group knew about it."
However, the skipper said he would not resign and that coach Darren Lehmann was not part of the conspiracy.
"No, I still think I'm the right person for the job," said the 28-year-old.
"Obviously today was a big mistake on my behalf and the leadership group's behalf as well, but I take responsibility. I need to take control of the ship. This is something I'm not proud of."
Television footage appeared to show Bancroft, 25, take on object out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session on the third day of the Test at Newlands.
He was spoken to by umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth during the 43rd over of South Africa's second innings after appearing to have the object in his hand after fielding the ball at cover.
While the umpires were conferring, Bancroft then appeared to place a small yellow object in his underpants.
When the umpires went across to talk to him he reached into a pocket and showed them what seemed to be a different object -- what looked like a soft pouch for sunglasses.
The umpires took no action and did not change the ball.
There were boos from a capacity crowd at Newlands when the incident was shown on the big screen at the ground.
Both Bancroft and Smith, who took over the Australian captaincy in 2015, appeared before the media after the match and admitted that they had attempted to change the condition of the ball.
"We had a discussion during the break. On myself I saw an opportunity to use some yellow tape and the granules from the rough patches of the wicket to change the condition of the ball," said opening batsman Bancroft who is playing in his eighth Test.
"It didn't work, the umpires didn't change the ball. We have this yellow tape in our kit. The actual sticky stuff itself is very sticky so I felt it could be used to collect some stuff from the side of the pitch."
Bancroft added he "panicked" when placing the object inside his trousers.
Smith will now face calls for his resignation after admitting that Bancroft did not act alone.
"The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch. I'm not proud of what happened. It's not in the spirit of the game," said the skipper.
However, Smith insisted that coach Lehmann was not part of the conspiracy.
"The coach isn't involved. It was purely the leadership group and the players came up with this," added the captain who is playing in the 64th Test of a career which has yielded more than 6,000 runs.
"We saw this as such an important game. We've obviously seen the ball reversing quite a lot throughout this series and the ball just didn't look like it was going to go. That's a mistake on our behalf."


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019
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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.