Cape Town – South African television footage of Australian fielder Cameron Bancroft hastily putting a mystery yellow, seemingly sandpaper-like device down the front of his trousers rocked the second session on day three of the third Test at Newlands on Saturday.
One of SuperSport’s multitude of cameras suddenly focused, some 20 minutes ahead of tea, on Bancroft appearing to remove a sharp-looking item from his right pocket and fairly hastily ram it down his pants.
He was then, after a brief discussion between the English officials Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, called over by the umpires – along with his captain Steve Smith.
Bancroft then produced -- from a pocket rather than where the device had been buried – what looked like a piece of cloth used to clean sunglasses or as a handkerchief.
Play resumed, and the commentators largely kept a tactful silence over the matter … at a time when the Aussies were desperate for the ball to start reverse-swinging as much as possible as South Africa built on a tidy lead.
But social media exploded almost immediately with activity, including one tweet from SA limited-overs player Beuran Hendricks who said: “Take it from a woodwork craftsman. That’s 1100 grit yellow (sandpaper).”
SA-born, just-retired England batsman Kevin Pietersen tweeted: “This could be a MASSIVE story in a couple of hours! Oh my word!”
During the tea break, former Test legends Shane Warne and Graeme Smith also weighed in with some input, while pointing out that they were wary of saying anything premature.
Former SA skipper Smith said: “It does like or seem as though it’s a bit of sandpaper to affect the ball. Doesn’t look good.
“You’ve got to ask tough questions of (Aussie coach) Darren Lehmann and (captain) Steve Smith. It’s silly, and not on.
“The footage is quite damning.”
Aussie leg-spin legend Warne added: “You can’t do the things it looks like he’s doing. You’ve got to own up as to what it was.
“You can’t have it in the game. If you bring in a foreign object, it must be seriously looked at.”
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