- Australia's four bowlers involved in the infamous 2018 ball-tampering scandal against SA have denied any prior knowledge of the plot.
- This follows opening batsman Cameron Bancroft's suggestion over the weekend that the team's bowlers were aware of the plans.
- Australian media on Tuesday quoted unnamed sources saying Bancroft had backed away from his allegations after being asked to provide evidence.
The four Australian bowlers involved in the infamous 2018 ball-tampering scandal against South Africa have released a statement re-affirming they knew nothing of the plot.
This comes after opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggested over the weekend that the team's bowlers were aware of the ball-tampering plans.
Bancroft served a nine-month ban after being caught on television hiding yellow sandpaper, which had been used to rough up the ball, in his trousers during the third Test at Newlands in Cape Town.
Then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles for their involvement.
But Australia's four frontline bowlers during the Test - Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon - firmly deny they had any knowledge until the incident came to light.
South African won the Newlands Test by 322 runs and sealed a 3-1 series triumph when they won the final Test at the Wanderers by 492 runs.
The quartet's statement reads as follows:
"We pride ourselves on our honesty. So it's been disappointing to see that our integrity has been questioned by some journalists and past players in recent days in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018.
"We have already answered questions many times on this issue, but we feel compelled to put the key facts on the record again:
- We did not know a foreign substance was taken onto the field to alter the condition of the ball until we saw the images on the big screen at Newlands
- And to those who, despite the absence of evidence, insist that 'we must have known' about the use of a foreign substance simply because we are bowlers, we say this: The umpires during that Test match, Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, both very respected and experienced umpires, inspected the ball after the images surfaced on the TV coverage and did not change it because there was no sign of damage.
"None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened.
"We've all learned valuable lessons and we'd like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue.
"We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo.
"It has gone on too long and it is time to move on."
In an interview with The Guardian over the weekend, Bancroft was asked directly if the bowlers knew about his actions and twice said the answer was "pretty self-explanatory".
Bancroft is currently in England playing county cricket for Durham and Cricket Australia's integrity unit had written to the player, offering him the chance to shed fresh light on the controversy.
According to AFP, Australian media on Tuesday quoted unnamed sources saying Bancroft had backed away from his allegations after being asked to provide evidence.
Cricket Australia did not respond to a request for comment regarding that claim.