Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc has broken his silence on the ball tampering controversy that rocked a nation and led to the suspensions of those involved, including skipper Steve Smith.
The 28-year-old Starc was implicated in the cheating scandal when Smith suggested in an infamous press conference at the time that the plan to doctor the ball with the use of sandpaper had emanated from the team's leadership group.
As an experienced frontline bowler, Starc would certainly be seen as one of the leaders of the team but he has refuted any suggestion that the bowling unit was complicit in the ill-fated ploy.
Starc was speaking at a Women in Banking and Finance forum in Sydney at which corporate adviser Sue Cato warned of the dangers of ill-advised, ill-prepared press conferences.
“Going back to what Sue said before about being up front and tackling a problem head on, that’s something the group who decided to go into a press conference didn’t really think about,” Starc said, per FOX.
“They obviously didn’t see how big the reaction was going to be at that time and then went down the path of not telling the whole truth and then I guess involving another group, which ruined — well, not ruined — but affected other reputations.”
Smith has since admitted that the bowlers were not involved in the plot and a Cricket Australia investigation has formally cleared Starc and his bowling colleagues of any involvement, laying the blame squarely at the feet of suspended trio Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
Fellow Aussie bowler Josh Hazlewood recently spoke about the affair on Australian TV and explained the limited role bowlers play in maintaining the ball during the game.
“We obviously have ball maintenance people in the team, usually batsmen because they are in the circle and the bowlers field at fine leg,” he said. “They look after the ball from time to time and if it stops swinging, normally it starts to reverse swing.
“We pretty much get it at the top of our mark one second before we start running in. We have a quick look to see which side of the ball is more worn than the other.”
It is little wonder that Starc and co were so furious to be linked with such a shameful scandal that has had such a devastating impact on the reputation of Australian cricket.