Cameron Bancroft admits he will regret his choice to tamper with the ball in Cape Town for the rest of his life, but has not yet decided whether he will contest the nine-month ban handed to him by Cricket Australia.
Arriving at home in Perth, Bancroft spoke for the first time since the press conference in which he and the Australian captain Steven Smith misled the public about the nature of the ball-tampering offence, claiming he had used adhesive tape instead of the sandpaper he later admitted to using, after being instructed as to how to do so by the vice-captain David Warner
“Yes, I lied. I lied about the sandpaper and I panicked. I panicked in that situation and I’m very sorry,” he said. “I love the game of cricket and playing for my nation and my state, there is no greater pride for me. I am extremely disappointed and regret my actions. I am sorry to the people who have looked up to me around the world, especially the kids.
“I will focus on my actions and my conduct going forward. Not a second has gone by where I haven’t wanted to turn back time. I will regret this for the rest of my life. I just want to show how sorry I am, and at the end of the day, they are my actions that I am accountable for, and they don’t reflect on my values and what I have grown up to be. It is something I am very ashamed of and so sorry for.”
Though the WACA chief executive, Christina Matthews, initially said that Bancroft would accept his punishment, his response to a question about contesting the penalty imposed by CA – a nine-month playing ban and a two-year ban from captaincy – told a rather different tale. “At the moment, I have received the paperwork for my sanction,” he said. “I respect the process that is going to come with that and I will work with my manager [Trent Ovens] and we’ll move forward with that.”
The cricket cost has been at the forefront of Bancroft’s mind ever since he realised the gravity of the situation. He arrived home just as three players flown from Australia as replacements – Matt Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell – prepared to train on the eve of the fourth Test against South Africa at the Wanderers.
“Through the last few days, sitting in my own company, the thing that breaks my heart the most is that I have given up my spot in the team for somebody else for free,” Bancroft said. “People know that I’ve worked so hard to be able to get to this stage in my career, and to know that I have just given somebody an opportunity for free is devastating for me.
“I know it is going to be a difficult journey back, but the moment I step outside this room is the moment I take the step forward to earning that respect back. Through this whole experience and whirlwind has been obviously shown how important the game of cricket is to Australia and the public, and we are representations of that.
“For me, it has been a very big wake-up call for myself about what that means and how amazing an opportunity it is to wear the baggy green cap. I feel I have let everyone down in Australia and I am not proud of that, and I know it is going to take time to heal and to earn that respect back from everybody.”
Among Bancroft’s biggest regrets is that he did not question the suggestion from his opening partner Warner that he attempt to rough up the ball with sandpaper, having never before been involved with ball tampering at any level of the game. “I’ve never, ever been involved in tampering with the ball,” he said. “It completely compromises my values and what I stand for as a player and a person, and for Australian cricket, it is not acceptable.
“I had the opportunity to take control of my own values and my actions and I didn’t, and that’s a real embarrassment for me and I am sorry for what has entailed since then for that, and it is just a responsibility I completely take on myself.
“It is so big because the action of doing it is completely wrong, and for me to carry out that in front of world cricket and to be seen breaking the laws of the game, not playing within the spirit of the game, it is completely how cricket shouldn’t be played. It is going to be a really long road, especially for myself to earn that respect back, but for me, that’s the important thing.”
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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