SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Australia coach Justin Langer understands how Cameron Bancroft became embroiled in the ball-tampering scandal and said he would have cheated too if instructed to by senior players when he first played test cricket.
The 47-year-old former top order batsman, who made his test debut against West Indies in Adelaide in 1993, said the difference was that in his era the idea would never have been countenanced by captain Allan Border or coach Bob Simpson.
“If Allan Border had asked me to tamper with the ball I would’ve,” Langer told Australia’s Channel Nine.
“I would’ve because I would be too scared not to. The difference is Allan Border would never have asked me and Bobby Simpson would’ve killed me.
“He would’ve killed anyone who brought the game into disrepute. What I can’t believe is that Cameron Bancroft walked into the Australian cricket team and he was in a position where he made that decision.”
Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban from international and state cricket for his part in the scandal which erupted in the third test in South Africa in March and quickly engulfed Australian cricket.
The 25-year-old, who was playing in his eighth test, was cast as the misled junior in the Cricket Australia report which followed and got off lightly compared to captain Steve Smith and vice captain David Warner, who were both banned for a year.
Langer said his own experience had taught him that it was up to everybody in the team set-up to ensure the standards of behaviour expected of test cricketers.
“I walked into this Australian cricket changeroom with Allan Border, Steve Waugh, David Boon and Ian Healy and Bobby Simpson leading it,” he recalled.
“You couldn’t help but become a better person and a better cricketer – because mate, that was a serious changeroom.”
Langer, Bancroft’s former coach at Western Australia, reiterated his opinion that all three players caught up in the scandal deserved a chance to work their way back into the team after having served their bans.
“If we can keep mentoring them and helping them, and they want to keep getting better and meet the standards of the Australian cricket team, then, of course, they’ll be welcome back,” he said.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ian Ransom