Cameron Bancroft, the Australia opener, was spoken to by the on-field umpires after television cameras captured him holding a foreign object when working on the ball during the second session on day three of the Newlands Test.
A small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, and he was also captured taking it from his pocket and seeming to place it down his trousers. The footage showed Bancroft seeming to rub the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers, as is permitted under ICC playing conditions.
The umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball nor penalise the Australians five runs – the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball.
Australia’s bowlers had been able to gain pronounced reverse swing on day three in Cape Town, though South Africa continued to build their second-innings lead. Questions about ball tampering have been raised throughout the series, where reverse swing has been a consistent theme.
Warner was highlighted for the bandages on his hand in Port Elizabeth, the result of numerous finger injuries suffered while batting in the past, and on day one at Newlands the fast bowler Pat Cummins inadvertently tread on the ball.
Earier in the series, the Australia coach Darren Lehmann said both sides would try various “techniques” to get the ball to reverse swing. The pitch and wicket square at Newlands has been notably greener than those of Durban and Port Elizabeth, meaning there is less natural roughing up of the ball to be gained.
“Obviously, there are techniques used by both sides to get the ball reverse and that’s just the way the game goes,” Lehmann said after the Durban Test. “I have no problems with it, simple. You’d have to ask the umpires and ICC about that one [whether it is legal]. I don’t mind the ball moving, I have no problems with it at all.
“It makes great viewing as a fan of the game. It’s challenging for batters and challenging for bowlers to get it in the right position. If you don’t get it in the right position, you saw [on day four] we didn’t bowl very well for about two or three hours. It reversed and we couldn’t get it right. They scored very heavily, so you’ve still got to bowl well.”