MELBOURNE (AFP) – Cameron Bancroft should have approached support staff when he was asked to ball tamper, said former Australia coach Darren Lehmann as an “isolated” David Warner was urged to give his side of the story.
Both Bancroft and Steve Smith have given bombshell interviews in recent days as they re-emerge into public life after the scandal in South Africa in March.
On Wednesday (Dec 26), Bancroft confirmed Warner asked him to use sandpaper to alter the ball and claimed he went along with it “to fit in” and because he “didn’t know any better”.
Lehmann, who was coach at the time but stepped down in the aftermath of the vitriolic fallout, said Bancroft should have talked to him or other staff if he felt suffocated by the pressure.
“Yeah he could’ve and should’ve come to us,” Lehmann told Macquarie Sports Radio, where he is commentating on the third Test against India in Melbourne.
“At the end of the day it was a mistake – we know that. A severe mistake made by the guys and a lot of people have suffered one way or the other through that. We know it shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”
Last week Smith also opened up about the incident that rattled the sport, distancing himself from the plot while admitting he failed as a captain by turning a blind eye.
“I had the opportunity to stop it at that point rather than say, ‘I don’t want to know anything about it’,” he said.
Lehmann said Smith should have had “more control” over the situation.
“Steve decided to turn a blind eye – I still can’t understand the pressures of captaining your country, it’s quite high you would think,” he said.
Smith and Warner were banned for a year from international and domestic cricket while Bancroft was suspended for nine months. He is due to make his return this weekend.
A Cricket Australia investigation pointed to Warner as the mastermind and while he has admitted responsibility for his part in the incident, he is yet to respond to the latest revelations.
Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who conducted the interviews with Bancroft and Smith for Fox Sports, urged Warner to give his side of the story for the sake of his future international career.
“There’s no doubt Davey Warner would be feeling so isolated at the moment,” said Gilchrist.
“I would encourage Dave to come out wherever and just be honest and as open as you need to be to get back to playing cricket.”
Some top former players said they were shocked by the timing of the interviews, on the opening day of the crucial third Test, with the series tied 1-1.
“I’m not sure how happy the players would be about it or Cricket Australia, because it’s a pretty special moment in Australian cricket on a day like Boxing Day,” former skipper Ricky Ponting told cricket.com.au.
Dean Jones was even more damning in his response, saying the interviews “throw more fuel on the fire”.
“Just keep quiet boys… do your time and play… that’s if they get that chance again,” he added on Twitter.
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