Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia pace bowler Pat Cummins has admitted that he had a “sick feeling in my stomach” upon seeing the footage that proved opening batsman Cameron Bancroft had altered the condition of the ball with sandpaper.
The footage implicating Bancroft in the ball tampering scandal appeared on the big screen at Newlands on the third day of the match. Prior to that, Cummins had bowled a five-over spell, during which he removed South Africa batsman Hashim Amla.
When the incident was shown on the big screen, Cummins recalled that he was extremely shocked and concerned.
“I remember seeing what happened up on the big screen and just getting a sick feeling in my stomach and just thought, ‘Oh no, what’s going on here? What’s going to happen?’,” Cummins told cricket.com.au. “At the time, I thought this event that’s just happened, it does have precedent around the world, it has happened a few times before.
“Never in Australia, but you kind of know what happens – an ICC sanction gets handed down.”
Later on, Cummins revealed that the mindset within the team changed as they said “we’ll worry about it after the game, just get through today”. The reason behind the Baggy Greens’ ideology was the fact that the series was tied 1-1-1 and they were determined to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
“The Cape Town Test was really good the first two days,” Cummins said. “It was good, hard cricket and it was a pretty even contest. It’s a great ground, Newlands. The pitch was good, it felt like a really good game. Then from day three onwards it was such a different match.”
The next day, Tim Paine replaced Steve Smith as captain and it was at that point that the players in the team realised how serious the situation was.
“You know it’s big news but don’t really know the magnitude,” Cummins said. “Then the next morning when I woke up and checked my phone, that’s when it hit me. That’s when the reaction was unprecedented. We’d never seen anything like it before.
“It really took us out of the bubble about being on tour.
“I mean, we had the Prime Minister on the news giving his opinion on the situation, and ex-players and politicians, movie stars, and everyone.
“We just thought, ‘Hang on, we’re just cricketers playing a little cricket game over here in Cape Town’ and suddenly this has just blown up all around the world.
“Suddenly everyone at home, who’s maybe not even following the cricket or mates who don’t watch that much cricket, are checking in going, ‘Mate, hope you’re OK’.
“That’s when the magnitude hit me and from there I just remember a really awful week … just a really tough week, especially on the three guys that put their hand up.
“I really felt for them and everyone trying to look after each other for that week, it was a pretty dark place.”
Cricket Australia launched their own investigation into the scandal and ultimately banned Smith and David Warner for 12 months, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months.
In addition, Smith won’t allowed to captain Australia for two years, while Warner won’t be considered for leadership roles in the future.
It is understood that Warner played a leading role in the scandal as he told Bancroft to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper.
However, the fallout of the incident did not end there as head coach Darren Lehmann announced that he would resign after the fourth Test in Johannesburg.
When asked about the mood within the team during the fourth Test, Cummins said: “This time in Johannesburg was such a different feeling coming off a pretty horrible week, to be honest.
“We were trying to get our heads around just what happened but also thinking, ‘We’ve got a Test to play this week’.
“It was a new captain, and other than Nathan Lyon who’s played 80-odd games, hardly anyone in the team had played more than 20 or 30 Tests. And we had three guys fly over a day before the game.
“It just felt like a really new team. We were missing a couple of the stalwarts from the team, we didn’t have a heap of experience, it was Darren Lehmann’s last game and we were just trying to get our head around trying to get through this Test match, put up a really good effort and come out the other side.
“I just remember it being a really, really draining game. Just all the emotion happening off the field, then on it we spent about four-and-a-half days on the field.”