Proteas

How SuperSport's cameramen caught Bancroft red-handed

2018-03-26 21:42
Cameron Bancroft (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Australian opener Cameron Bancroft may have got away with his now infamous attempt to alter the condition of the ball in the third Test against South Africa at Newlands had he not panicked and attempted to hide the evidence down his trousers.

READ: Top XI must-read Oz ball-tampering articles

That's the belief of Alvin Naicker, the head of production at host broadcaster SuperSport and the man in the director's chair who broke one of cricket's greatest scandals.

Bancroft was caught on camera placing sticky yellow tape, which he used to pick up rough granules off the pitch, down the front of his pants when he believed his cheating ways had been spotted by the match referee, Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe.

The fall-out from the incident cost captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner their positions for the remainder of the match, and has thrown both players' future in the baggy green cap into doubt, according to Nick Said, writing on the Reuters website.

READ: Was Steve Smith lying? Shocking new footage suggests he was!

"We initially just saw that he had something in his hand and he put it in his pocket, but we didn't know what it was," Naicker repeated during the John Maytham radio show on Cape Talk on Monday.

"It was only when he later panicked and put it in his underpants that we got sight of the yellow tape."

Naicker added that they had been focusing on the ball while Australia were in the field since the first Test at Kingsmead in Durban when speedster Mitchell Starc produced a devasting spell of reverse-swing bowling which ultimately handed Australia a 118-run victory.

After the images of Bancroft putting something in his pocket appeared on the big screen at the ground, umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth called the player over.

He produced a black piece of cloth used to clean sunglasses from his pocket and the umpires appeared, at the time, to be satisfied.

READ: Open letter to Steve Smith from an Australian cricket fan and father

Naicker believes that had Bancroft kept the piece of yellow tape in his pocket and still produced the black cloth for the umpires, giving him the opportunity to dispose of the tape later, nobody would be the wiser.

"The moment he tried to dispose of it in his pants, we knew that this was a major incident. Until then, we were not sure what we were looking at."

Naicker added they had not been tracking Bancroft specifically, but it is standard for the broadcaster to follow the ball from player to player, even when it is not in play.

"We have seven cameras that stay with the ball always, whether it is in play or not," he revealed.

"But there are a lot more cameras, we had 30 at the ground, 18 of which are manned while the other 12 are static and used for lbw referrals and square-leg run outs," Naicker confirmed on air.

READ: 27 of the best Oz ball-tampering memes and jokes!

Naicker says they broadcast the footage of him rubbing the ball with the then unknown object almost immediately after the incident.

"He (Bancroft) probably saw it two minutes after it happened and very smartly our cameraman focused on the coaching staff and we saw their coach (Darren Lehmann) get on the walkie-talkie to a player down on the field (Peter Handscomb), who ran on to speak with Bancroft. It was then he panicked."

The 'follow the ball' policy is something Naicker says is done in every Test and they were neither asked to do it, nor were driven by any other previous suspicious behaviour.

"We don't want it to seem like we are going after the Australian team," he said.

"If that was a South African, we would have broadcast the footage for sure.

"We have a responsibility to entertain, but just like journalists we have a moral obligation to provide unbiased editorial."

The cameraman given the credit for exposing the biggest cheating scandal to rock the sport in recent years is affectionately known as Oscar, who has a quirky habit of wearing a suit to Day 1 of every Test he covers.

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