The scars resulting from the Cape Town cheating scandal have been scratched during one of the most momentous days on the Australian cricket calendar, with Cameron Bancroft revealing how desperate he was to ‘‘fit in and feel valued’’.
Bancroft, speaking in depth for the first time since copping a nine-month suspension for his role in the ball-tampering furore, suggested he ‘‘didn’t know any better’’ when asked by David Warner to tamper with the ball at Newlands.
The same information was contained in Cricket Australia’s formal investigation of the sandpaper saga, but Bancroft is yet to revisit the incident in such detail.
‘‘Dave (Warner) suggested to me to carry the action out on the ball given the situation we were in the game,’’ Bancroft said in an interview on Fox Sports’ Boxing Day coverage.
‘‘I didn’t know any better because I just wanted to fit in and feel valued really. As simple as that.
‘‘The decision was based around my values, what I valued at the time and I valued fitting in ... you hope that fitting in earns you respect and with that, I guess, there came a pretty big cost for the mistake.’’
The opener added he was ‘‘not a victim’’ because he had a choice.
The batsman often wonders what would have happened if he refused to be part of the illegal ploy to alter the ball in Cape Town.
‘‘I would have gone to bed and I would have felt like I had let everybody down,’’ he said.
‘‘Like I had let the team down. I would have felt like I had hurt our chances to win the game of cricket.’’
Bancroft’s comments highlight the challenge awaiting national coach Justin Langer and Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts as they mull how best to reintegrate the Cape Town trio and rebuild relationships strained by the saga.
Warner and Smith could return within days of their suspensions ending, during Australia’s ODI series against Pakistan in March-April.
Roberts insisted he wasn’t disappointed with Bancroft’s interview going to air on day one of the third Test between Australia and India.
‘‘The events of Cape Town were investigated and dealt with some nine months ago now, so there’s no new news there,’’ Roberts said.
‘‘It’ll be important that the players make a commitment to the new culture of Australia’s men’s team.
‘‘Commit to making Australians proud in everything they do, on and off the field.
‘‘I have confidence that the spirit of Steve, David and Cameron is really consistent with that.’’
Roberts also shouldered arms when asked about Smith’s contentious commercial for Vodafone.
‘‘That’s Steve’s prerogative,’’ he said.
‘‘All three players have had a profound positive impact on a number of people during their suspension.
‘‘Steve ... has given hope to teenagers who had lost hope.’’