As the international summer edges closer, LiveScore cricket expert Matthew Storey reports on the latest from England, plus more controversy Down Under.
Aussie bowlers on the defensive
The Newlands ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket has reared its ugly head again following a revealing Cameron Bancroft interview.
Bancroft, then 25, was banned along with Steve Smith and David Warner for using sandpaper on the ball in a Test match against South Africa in March 2018.
Nobody else in the side has ever been implicated in the cheating scandal — but the opening batsman told the Guardian that “"t was pretty probably self-explanatory" that the bowlers knew what was happening in Cape Town.
Now the bowling attack from that Test, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyons and Josh Hazlewood — all still key members of the side — have rebuked his claims.
Their joint statement said: "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."
Ahead of The Ashes this winter, England bowler Stuart Broad suggested more will come out when those involved — specifically Warner — retire from the game.
England cricketers have been tactful with comments on the scandal in recent years but have often insinuated they felt something may have been up months before the Aussies were caught out.
Broad said: "I have seen a couple of comments from David Warner's agent, too, and I think it will be an interesting time when he stops playing for Australia and writes a book."
Former Aussie greats have also been pointing accusatory fingers at the 2018 side.
The inquiry into the incident was conducted by Cricket Australia and carried out just two days of interviews, coming in for criticism from many ex-players, including Adam Gilchrist.
Michael Clarke, who was skipper before Smith, went one step further and said he thinks more people knew exactly what was going on.
Regardless, the shameful episode does not look like going away anytime soon for the Aussies and questions will continue ahead of the winter’s blockbuster series.
Broad: Smith didn’t rate me
Stuart Broad believes former national selector Ed Smith was ‘the boss who didn’t rate me as much as other people’ — but concedes he was a success in the role.
Smith left his job last month due to a restructure at the ECB and it seems Broad will not be too disappointed to see the back of the former Kent batsman.
He gave a memorable and honest mid-game interview during the First Test against the West Indies last summer, expressing his disappointment at being left out of the side.
Broad, who sits only behind team-mate Jimmy Anderson when it comes to Test wickets for England, said: "Last year I was disgruntled because the selectors had said the first Test team of the summer will be our best team.
"For someone who had been through The Ashes successfully, been through South Africa successfully and stayed fit, I felt it was my shirt. I felt I was in the best team.
“So to be told I suddenly wasn't in the best team with my record in England, that's what upset me."
It was not the first time Broad disagreed with a decision from Smith and believes poor communication meant their relationship never got off the ground.
He added: "You can say [Smith's period as national selector] was a success in the sense that the team won games and a World Cup. And he brought some fine players through.
"But from my point of view we struggled a bit on the communication side and probably saw the game of cricket slightly differently.
"A lot of people have bosses who don't rate them as much as other people and I think he was mine.
"He probably didn't rate me as much as other players. That's fine, but I kept trying to prove some selection decisions wrong.
"I really disagreed with getting left out in Barbados [at the start of 2019]. It's one of the best places to bowl as a tall fast bowler.
“And there are a few occasions where I have felt a bit disgruntled and didn't have the clarity of communication that I would have liked.
“That Test I missed at the Ageas Bowl is the only English Test I've missed in what, 10 years? And that was through selection.
"I am very open to being told things. You have a discussion face to face and then have a beer and move on. That's how I like to do things. Maybe Ed and I didn't have that sort of relationship.
“But he did a lot for bringing through some young cricketers and giving them exposure to the international scene. But he didn't rate me overly highly and I just had to keep proving that view wrong."
AB return off
AB de Villiers has called off his retirement U-turn and he will not play for South Africa in the T20 World Cup later this year.
The legendary batsman, 37, had talked up returning to the national set-up amidst a blistering run of form in the Indian Premier League.
But talks with Cricket South Africa and head coach Mark Boucher have now seen him opt against playing for the Proteas for the first time in three years.
De Villiers had offered to return ahead of South Africa’s dismal 2019 World Cup campaign but was rebuffed and, even though he averaged 51.75 runs in six IPL innings at a strike rate of 164.28, a press release today declared his retirement ‘final'.
Instead, the focus was on the squad for the upcoming Test and T20 tour of the West Indies.