Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England opener Alastair Cook has revealed that his side suspected Australia were tampering with the ball during the recent Ashes series.
Cook’s comments come after the Australian trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were all banned for their involvement in a ball tampering scandal during their tour of South Africa.
It is understood that Warner played a leading role in the scandal, which occurred on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town, as he told Bancroft to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper.
As a result, Warner and Smith were banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months. Smith also won’t be allowed to captain Australia for two years, while Warner won’t be considered for leadership roles in the future.
With Australia cruising to a comprehensive 4-0 win in the Ashes against England, Cook was asked whether he and his teammates questioned whether Australia were altering the condition of the ball.
In response, Cook was quoted by ESPNcricinfo as saying: “Yeah, a little bit. We did think in Perth, when the outfield was wet after the rain, how had they managed to get the ball reversing. I didn’t see anything, [but] we’ve been pretty good on the ball, managing the ball so that it can reverse swing at certain times.
“Jimmy [Anderson] is obviously very good at reverse swinging, we got it going a touch at Melbourne either way, but with those drop-in pitches we didn’t get it going massively.”
Despite Cook’s suspicions, he conceded that his side could have also been completely outplayed by the Baggy Greens.
“We were curious in that series at certain moments but we couldn’t get the ball up to 90mph and they consistently could,” he said. “That was the thing back in 2005. Obviously in England we had Simon Jones and Freddie [Flintoff] who were quicker than the Aussies, and they managed to get the reverse swing and the Aussies didn’t, so we have to be very careful there.”
When asked what he thought about Australia’s actions during the Cape Town Test and the punishments handed down to Smith, Warner and Bancroft, Cook said: “It’s not for me to comment on the punishments. I just think it was a real reminder, watching the whole thing, of what people want to watch in sport.
“It was the same as cycling, and the match-fixing in one sense, when people buy tickets to watch sport, they want to see, no matter who is playing, it’s done in a fair way.
“It was an amazing public outcry, and sometimes under the pressure of playing, when it feels so important to you because it’s your profession, your livelihood, sometimes winning or losing can take over. Win lose or draw, if you try your hardest with no external things, you win or lose that way. But it’s wrong for anyone here in the cold light of day to criticise, because people do make mistakes.”