MITCHELL Starc has moved to clarify reports he earlier this week confirmed fractures within the Aussie Cricket Team resulting from the infamous ball-tampering fiasco.
Starc reportedly told a Women in Banking and Finance forum in Sydney that there was significant fallout within the Aussie dressing room as a result of the decision to hold a press conference for Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft to admit to certain aspects of the ball-tampering plot straight after a day of play during the Cape Town Test in South Africa.
Smith’s declaration during the press conference that the entire leadership group was involved in the attempt to tamper with the ball reportedly infuriated star bowlers Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
Starc told the conference in Sydney some players in the team had their reputations tarnished by being dragged into the scandal by Smith’s move during the press conference to deflect pressure away from any one player.
It backfired spectacularly.
According to The Australian, Starc confirmed divisions in the team caused by the Bancroft-Smith press conference.
“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, he said.
Starc moved to clarify those reports on Saturday, releasing an extensive statement in which he acknowledged relationships within the Aussie dressing room were strained during the fallout to the scandal.
He insisted on Saturday the important difference is that the relationships were bent, not broken.
Starc’s comment also singled out his own feelings towards banned trio Bancroft, Smith and David Warner.
“Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a Women In Banking and Finance forum in Sydney with my wife Alyssa,” Starc said in a statement posted to his personal website.
“I was invited as one of the guest panellists at the event, which provided some fantastic insight from some very successful and influential business women in understanding the role we play in managing our own personal and professional reputation.
“My comments at the forum were provided in the context of a particular topic, as it related to being honest and authentic in delivering a message. This context has unfortunately been lost in certain media reporting and headlines in recent days. But fundamentally there are many things that we can all learn from recent events in South Africa.
“It was such a stressful time in our lives. There was strain on relationships both as individuals and as a team. However, the relationships of that group remain very much intact. I look forward to the opportunity to play alongside every one of my team mates from that tour again. We still have a long way to go in rebuilding the trust with the Australian public and I know personally, that I am 100 per cent committed to doing that.
“Despite reports to the contrary, I continue to have the utmost respect for Steve Smith as captain, teammate and friend and I look forward to having him back in our great game soon. That goes for David and Cameron who have also been through an extremely tough time.
“It is good to see all three guys planning to be back in cricket soon in different competitions around the world.
“Rebuilding trust and developing a positive reputation will take time and through our actions, we hope to demonstrate this to cricket fans everywhere.
“The process has already started and the focus now should be on the cricket being played and the stories of performance and change in the current series, led by new Aussie coach Justin Langer, captain Tim Paine and the current team over in the UK.
“To all stakeholders and fans out there, please stick with us. Trust me when I say we all love the game as much as you do.”
A Cricket Australia investigation held Smith, Bancroft and Warner responsible for the ball-tampering ploy and the Australian bowling unit has firmly denied any knowledge of what was happening.
The report of Starc’s comments follow Hazlewood’s firm denial of any knowledge of the plot during an appearance on Fox Sports’ The Back Page this week.
The opening quick explained how the bowlers would not be aware of specific changes made to the ball.
“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.”
Spinner Nathan Lyon also reiterated his disbelief at the whole situation in a wide-ranging interview with cricket.com.au.
“I don’t know what to say about that tour,” Lyon said. “No-one saw it coming and to be honest with you, if you ask me in 10 years’ time, I still won’t know the answer.”