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‘He’s buried David Warner’ – flak for Bancroft, Smith tell-all

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith have stepped out into the public eye as they work on their reintegration into the Australian cricket set-up, but their rebranding exercise hasn’t gone down well everywhere.

Michael Slater and Ricky Ponting are among those questioning the timing of and sentiment in their interviews, and agreed that it made it hard for Warner to be back in the team when his year-long ban for ball-tampering during the South Africa series is up.

Bancroft, in an interview aired on December 26, said it had been Warner who put him up to sandpapering the ball, while Smith earlier admitted he had “looked the other way”.

Speaking to Channel 7 during the broadcast of the Australia v India Boxing Day Test, Slater, who represented Australia in 74 Tests, described the Bancroft-Warner relationship as “untenable”. “There is a strategy behind Steve Smith and Bancroft [interviews] and Dave Warner’s off the radar at the moment. They’re all running some strategy to try and regain respect from the public and from their players. [But] in those comments he’s buried Dave Warner,” he said.

“They had the chance way back when it happened to tell the truth about the situation. There’s no use now coming back and saying something different that was said then. They all collectively said as that little group that ‘we’re all involved’. Now they’re saying something very different. I don’t want to hear it.”

Slater questioned the need to revisit the incident with a slightly different version at a time when the Australian team was trying to rebuild its culture. “In terms of a respectful comment on Dave Warner, there’s been none of that,” he added. “They’ve buried him very quickly … A couple of things that have come out of Steve and now Bancroft [interviews], it makes it very hard for Dave Warner to come back in to the team.”

Ponting told the broadcaster he was “shocked” at some of the things said and “disappointed at the timing” of Bancroft’s interview on “the best day on the Australian cricket calendar”, but added later to cricket.com.au that he understood why it was aired on Boxing Day.

“I just don’t think he had to say some of the things he had to say, Cameron Bancroft, to be honest,” he told Channel 7. “Even the way he presented himself in that interview I was disappointed with. He’s trying to rebuild his brand and I think some of the things he’s had to say have actually done more damage to his brand than what had happened before.”

He added to cricket.com.au: “I’m pretty sure that Painey and some of the other guys, they have to leave that behind and move on and worry about what’s happening in the middle of the MCG. Because right now, the series is at absolute fever pitch … so the less distractions the better.”

Mark Taylor, the former captain, complained that it was just rehashing the same story. “Everyone’s going to say that they need to ‘clear the air’ but I don’t think they do. The air in my opinion is clear. We know the story, we know what’s gone on, the players at the end of their suspensions will have done their time having done the crime. To me it’s now a matter of them getting on and playing some good cricket.”

Darren Lehmann, coach at the time, told Macquarie Sports Radio that Bancroft should have gone to the coaching staff. “Yeah he could’ve and should’ve [come to the coaches],” he said. “He should’ve come to us, at the end of the day it was a mistake — we know that. [It was] a severe mistake made by the guys and a lot of people have suffered one way or the other through that.”

The one person quiet in all of this has been Warner. Adam Gilchrist, who conducted the interviews, urged him to speak out as well. “I would encourage Dave to come out wherever and just be honest and as open as you need to be to get back to playing cricket.”

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