'They've got to hold the ball to bowl with it' - Michael Clarke emphasizes bowler's involvement in Sandpapergate

‘They’ve got to hold the ball to bowl with it’ – Michael Clarke emphasizes bowler’s involvement in Sandpapergate

Michael Clarke believes bowlers were aware of ball-tampering.

 Michael Clarke. (Photo by Pramod Thakur/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The infamous Sandpapergate scandal again came into the limelight after Cameron Bancroft made some massive revelation regarding the matter. Bancroft, who was handed a nine-month ban for tampering the ball during the 2019 Newlands Test, in a recent interview hinted that Aussie bowlers knew about the tactics. Since then, many from the cricket fraternity presented their opinion on the topic and now, Michael Clarke has also joined the bandwagon.

The former Australian captain feels that more than three players must have been involved in the strategy, and hence, Bancroft’s statement shouldn’t surprise many. Notably, Cricket Australia, in an investigation conducted after the controversial 2018 Test match, learned that only the then skipper Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were involved in the plot. Subsequently, the trio faced bans. However, Clarke believes that more people must have been aware of the happenings.

Bowlers must have known about the happenings: Michael Clarke

“They’ve got to hold the ball to bowl with it. I can tell you now if you went and grabbed a pen, just a pen and put a little ‘1’ somewhere on my cricket bat; on top of the handle, on the edge of the bat, on the toe of the bat, on the face, under the grip, anywhere, just a little number one, I would have noticed,” Clarke said while speaking to Sky Sports.

The 2015 World Cup-winning captain also asserted that professional cricketers understand if some tinkering has been done with the ball. Hence, it’s impossible that bowlers were entirely alien to the plan. “If you are playing sport at the highest level you know your tools that good it’s not funny. Can you imagine that the ball being thrown back to the bowler and the bowler not knowing about it? Please,” he added.

Notably, Australia’s bowling attack in that Test comprised Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, and Josh Hazlewood. These four bowlers have been mainstays of Australia’s bowling line-up in Test cricket in the past few years. Hence, any action against them would be a big blow to the national team. Moreover, Cricket Australia, after Bancroft’s massive statement, said that they are open to reinvestigate the matter. Hence, the ball-tampering episode is likely to hover around Australian cricket for quite a while.