Former Australia skipper Mark Taylor believes the 2018 ball-tampering scandal “won’t go away” ever and its recent resurfacing will affect Steve Smith’s chances of regaining the Test captaincy.
Smith, who was sacked as skipper and suspended for a year for his role in the plot, has recently expressed his desire to lead Australia again. His captaincy push was also supported by current Test skipper Tim Paine.
However, the episode resurfaced recently when Cameron Bancroft, who was banned for nine months for his role, stated that whether the Australian bowlers knew of the plan to use a sandpaper on the ball during the Cape Town Test against South Africa was “self-explanatory.” “It doesn’t help. No doubt about it, it doesn’t help his case, because he like I’m sure most people involved in the game would like this just to go away; which it won’t go away,” Taylor told ‘Sports Sunday’.
“There’s no doubt there’s a growing momentum around Steve Smith being a potential captain, no doubt about that.” Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and spinner Nathan Lyon, who were all part of the team during the ill-fated series, recently issued a joint statement, calling for an end to “rumour-mongering and innuendo” regarding that episode.
Taylor, too, threw his weight behind the Australian bowling quartet.
“The bleeding obvious to me is they didn’t know that it had been doctored. You only have to read what they said during the week,” Taylor said.
“If I could just read it out: ‘We did not know a foreign substance was taken on to the field to alter the condition of the ball’. And as they said, the two umpires in the game did not change the ball.
“So there was an attempt to change the condition of the ball but they didn’t get to do it. The umpire said, ‘That ball’s still fine, let’s get on with it’. So they did not know.” Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke had criticised Cricket Australia (CA) for not probing the issue and “sweeping it under the carpet”.
Taylor, however, defended the probe given the circumstances.
“The question about whether Cricket Australia did enough three years ago, the answer to that is yes,” Taylor said.
“I think we had a four-day window between the end of the Cape Town Test and the start of the fourth Test which was at Johannesburg, to send someone over, do an investigation, make a report and then make some decisions around that. That was obviously to send the three players home and to deal with it then.
“Yes, in an absolute ideal situation, of course not; it would have been great to have six months to do all this. But we had a four-day window and I think in that time, we got it right.” Taylor also said that releasing the investigation report would not help matters.
“It’s going to be part of the cricket folk history, part of the history you don’t want cricket to be known for, it will be there forever.”