Australian ball-tampering: ICC will not look at Ashes claims

By Mandeep SangheraBBC Sport
Watch: Bancroft and Smith admit ball-tampering plan

World cricket's governing body will not look into claims Australia players tampered with the ball during their 4-0 Ashes win over England in the winter.

Australia's Cameron Bancroft tampered with the ball during their recent Test defeat in South Africa, but captain Steve Smith says it was a one-off.

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan said he was "pretty sure" Australia were doing similar during the Ashes series.

However, the time limit the ICC has for reporting any such offence has passed.

The International Cricket Council's code of conduct says complaints for offences such as ball-tampering must be lodged "within 18 hours of the close of the day's play, or prior to the start of the following day's play or the start of the next relevant international match, whichever is the sooner".

If the complaint is lodged "by the CEO of either of the two national cricket federations" it must be made "no later than 48 hours after the close of the day's play".

Though the ICC will not look into the Ashes claims, it is expected to discuss events in Cape Town at its next board meeting at the end of April.

What has happened so far?

On day three of the third Test in Cape Town, television footage showed Bancroft take what he said was yellow tape out of his trouser pocket before rubbing the ball.

He later said he had used "some tape" and "granules from the rough patches on the wicket" in an attempt to change the condition of the ball.

Smith said after the day's play the team's "leadership group" had devised the plan as "a way to get an advantage".

He has been banned for one Test by the ICC while Bancroft has been fined 75% of his match fee and got three demerit points.

Footage has since emerged that it was claimed showed Bancroft putting sugar in his pocketexternal-link during the Ashes but this is thought to be chewing gum.

It is understood Australia have chewing gum and nuts in their dressing room but keep them in bowls with spoons for hygiene reasons, to prevent the spread of any viruses.

However, Vaughan has also highlighted the amount of tape certain Australia players wore on their fingers during the series, which could be used to affect the condition of the ball.

Vaughan, who captained England to an Ashes series victory in 2005, told BBC Radio 5 live's Tuffers and Vaughan Show: "I cannot think that has been come up with over lunch in Cape Town.

"I look at the amount of tape some of the fielders have worn, particularly during the Ashes series at mid-on and mid-off. You don't have to name names, they know who they are.

"I am pretty sure it was going on throughout the Ashes series - but it was not the reason England lost 4-0. They still would have lost the series."

He added: "One unwritten rule is that you do not take an object out there to tamper with the ball. I am pretty sure the Australians and the players involved in that leadership group will face the consequences."

Vaughan is not the only former international cricketer to have his suspicions, with former South Africa fast bowler Fanie de Villiers saying he told camera operators to keep an eye on the Australians in the field while commentating in Cape Town.

"I said earlier on, that if they could get reverse swing in the 26th, 27th, 28th over then they are doing something different from what everyone else does," De Villiers told RSN Radio.

"We actually said to our cameramen: 'Go out (and) have a look, boys. They're using something.'

"They searched for an hour and a half until they saw something and then they started following Bancroft and they actually caught him."

Was it borne out of 'desperation'?

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson said he believed the Australia players bent the rules because of "desperation" .

"When you look at the Ashes, they were never really behind in any of the games, they won quite comfortably," he said.

"Here they have been behind a couple of times and perhaps that desperation came into it. It's a shame that something like this had to happen for them to have to have a look at themselves.

"The ball will reverse swing naturally, but everybody has a way of getting it to go a little bit further. Perhaps the desperation that they were behind in the game meant they took it that step further. It's unfortunate."

Cricket Australia is carrying out its own investigation into the ball-tampering controversy before deciding what action to take against those involved.

The fourth Test of the series in South Africa starts on Friday in Johannesburg.

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