Ian Gould, who officiated as the third umpire during the 2018 Newlands Test, has revealed that it was at the discretion of the match officials, and not the on-air commentators, as was earlier believed, that the host broadcasters carried out the sting operation that exposed Australia’s indiscretions.
Gould, who officiated for the first time in the series at Newlands, said that the umpires had already suspected Australia of foul play, and had relayed their concerns to him when he arrived in Cape Town.
“A few days before I headed to Cape Town, Chris Gaffaney, the very capable New Zealander who was third umpire for the first Test in Durban, and had stood with Kumar Dharmasena in Port Elizabeth in the second match, left a message on my phone, warning me that things were starting to get a little bit out of hand,” Gould wrote in his autobiography, Gunner: My Life In Cricket.
“The umpiring team had their suspicions that Australia were working a little too aggressively on the condition of the ball, and they had an informal word with the host broadcaster SuperSport asking that if their camera crew saw anything that looked unusual they should let the umpires know.”
Gould also revealed how Australia were almost led to believe that South Africa had been tampering in the next Test in Johannesburg, thanks to a small incident that happened at the end of day one.
“At the end of day one I was walking off, put my hand in my pocket and one of the [lolly] wrappers fell out,” Gould wrote. “I pushed it down a stump hole with my boot on one of the pitches on the edge of the square and thought nothing more of it.
“The following morning, the Australian bowlers were doing their warm-ups on the same wicket. You can probably guess what happened next. A few minutes later, their bowling coach David Saker knocked on our door and came in. ‘We’ve got ’em!’ he said. By that, we took it to mean that my sweet wrapper he had in his hand was the evidence that the South Africans had been applying saliva from Werther’s Originals to get the ball to swing on what was another flat deck.
“I looked at Andy and he looked at me, and both of us tried to keep a straight face. I reached into my pocket and rolled a couple of Werther’s along the table towards Saker. ‘These sweets, you mean?’ How Andy stopped himself dissolving into fits of laughter, I’ll never know. It was a ridiculous accusation to make on the flimsiest of evidence, but that’s how bad things had got between the teams. They were paranoid.”