What's the story?
Former South Africa fast bowler has claimed that he had instructed the cameramen of the host broadcaster to keep an eye on the Australian fielders, whom he long suspected adhering to illegal means in order to reverse the ball early during the Cape Town Test which concluded yesterday. "I said earlier on, that if they could get reverse swing in the 26th, 27th, 28th over then they are doing something different from what everyone else does," de Villiers told RSN Radio on Monday.
In case you didn't know..
Australia opener Cameron Bancroft was found tampering the condition of the ball using a sandpaper on the third day of the third Test against South Africa. With an intention to obtain reverse-swing much earlier than when it would naturally occur, Bancroft rubbed the sandpaper on the rough side of the ball.
However, on realizing that he had been caught on camera doing the same, he was seen placing the yellow object down his trousers following information from 12th man Peter Handscomb about being caught, who himself was told by coach Darren Lehmann through a walkie-talkie. Later on, though, both Bancroft and captain Steven Smith confessed to the offense, with the ICC suspending the latter for one Test besides docking him of his entire match fees, while the newcomer Bancroft escaped with a 75% fine and three demerit points.
The heart of the matter
Australia had also gained early reverse-swing during the second Test of the series at Durban when Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla negotiated a challenging period with the ball being moved around finely by pacers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Questioning the same, the 53-year-old de Villiers was prompted into advising the cameramen to keep a vigil on the touring side. "We actually said to our cameramen, 'go out [and] have a look, boys. They’re using something.' They searched for an hour and a half until they saw something and then they started following Bancroft and they actually caught him out at the end,” he said.
"Australian teams getting reverse swing before the 30th over, they had to do something. If you use a cricket ball and scratch it against a normal iron or steel gate or anything, anything steel on it, it reverse swings immediately. That’s the kind of extra alteration you need to do."
While Smith has been suspended from the final game at Johannesburg with the series 2-1 in favor of South Africa, the final verdict from Cricket Australia on Smith and vice-captain David Warner, who was a part of the “leadership group” to have known the usage of the sandpaper, remains to be heard. The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, in fact, gone on to demand "decisive action soon" from Cricket Australia on all those who had been intimidated about tampering from beforehand.
The great de Villiers, himself an accurate fast bowler during his days, perhaps sensed wrongdoings before anyone else did, and his sharpness to instruct the cameramen to keep a keen check on Smith and company eventually exposed a massive crime, resulting in the tarnished reputation of Australian cricket.