Umpires inspected ball, didn't change it as there was no sign of damage, say Australian pace trio
Australian bowlers, including top pacer Pat Cummins, on Tuesday asserted that they were unaware of the 2018 ball-tampering plot after being caught in a storm triggered by incident protagonist Cameron Bancroft's recent comments hinting at their involvement.
Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, who were all part of the team during the ill-fated series against South Africa, issued a joint statement to claim innocence and call for an end to 'rumour-mongering and innuendo'.
"We pride ourselves on our honesty. So it's been disappointing to see that our integrity has been questioned by some journalists and past players in recent days in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018," the statement read.
"...we feel compelled to put the key facts on the record again: We did not know a foreign substance was taken onto the field to alter the condition of the ball until we saw the images on the big screen at Newlands."
Bancroft, in a recent interview, had claimed that team's bowlers could have been aware of the illegal plot. He has since backtracked from his statement after Cricket Australia offered a reinvestigation.
The quartet added that both umpires officiating on the field -- Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth -- had inspected the ball and did not see any damage.
"The umpires during that Test match, Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, both very respected and experienced umpires, inspected the ball after the images surfaced on the TV coverage and did not change it because there was no sign of damage," they said.
The four bowlers said they learned valuable lessons and it is time to move on from the issue.
"None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened."
"We've all learned valuable lessons and we'd like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game."
"We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo.It has gone on too long and it is time to move on."
Bancroft had been caught on camera using sandpaper on the ball in the third Test against South Africa in 2018. The trio of Bancroft, then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were banned for their roles in the scandal.
While Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban, Smith and Warner were suspended for a year each.