Stuart Broad has poured scorn on Steven Smith’s assertion that Cameron Bancroft’s use of a foreign object on the match ball during the ongoing Newlands Test was the first time that an Australian team had used such a tactic.
Broad, who played in all five Tests of England’s recent 4-0 defeat in Australia, openly questioned Smith’s defence of his team’s actions, after TV footage on the third afternoon of the Test appeared to show Bancroft first rubbing the match ball with the object, then attempting to hide it in his trousers after he realised he had been spotted.
“I saw Steve Smith in his press conference say it’s the first time they’ve tried it – which to me, it’s surprising why they’d change a method that’s been working,” Broad said.
“Look at the Ashes series we’ve just played, all those Test matches, and they’ve reverse-swung the ball sometimes in conditions you wouldn’t expect it to. I don’t understand why they’ve changed their method for this one game.
“There was no evidence that they were doing this in the Ashes series, from what I’ve seen.”
Speaking in Auckland at the close of the fourth day’s play against New Zealand, Broad also accused Australia’s coach, Darren Lehmann, of hypocrisy, after his claims that the Newlands crowd had been “disgraceful” in the levels of abuse they had directed at his players.
This is the same Lehmann, after all, who told an Australian radio show in 2013 that he hoped that Australia’s own crowds would heap so much abuse on Broad during that winter’s Ashes campaign that they would send him home “crying” from the tour.
“That’s your word, not mine, but I would agree with you,” he said when asked about the apparent hypocrisy. “You look at the quotes from that 2013 interview – where he [Lehmann] basically asked a country to send an opposition player home crying.
“I didn’t. We lost the series, but it didn’t make me cry – and I quite enjoyed the series. I then can’t understand why you’d come out and moan about a different country and what they’re saying to their players.
“I’ve always been a bit of a believer in sport, if someone looks you in the eye you look them back in the eye; if someone wants to take you on verbally, then they’ve started that fight [so] you’re allowed to say something back. “Just from the outside, it looks like Australia have started a lot of fights and then [are] moaning when someone comes back.
“Cricket is a tough game, and international cricket [more so]. Verbals have always been in the game, and Australia have always been quite famous for that. Having played in a few Ashes series, I’m used to that and don’t mind it at all I like sport to be competitive.
“But this series, I don’t really understand Darren Lehmann saying the South African crowd have been out of order. Any England player that has toured Australia can laugh at those comments really, because some of the things we hear on the pitch from Australian supporters – known as ‘banter’ – I know is worse than South Africa.
“It looks like things might change for that team for a bit.”
On the extent to which the controversy has detracted from what has otherwise been a fascinating tussle between two well-matched teams, Broad added: “It’s obviously a real shame not what you want to see in cricket. Two brilliant teams, [but] it has seemed to be marred with the Rabada stuff and now the ball-tampering issue.
“It’s obviously bringing cricket into the news, not in a way cricket fans and cricket players want.”