Australia coach Justin Langer claims there is a worldwide problem with ball-tampering, partly due to unresponsive pitches, while vowing it will never happen under his watch.
The former Test opener, appointed when Darren Lehmann quit in the aftermath of a cheating scandal in South Africa this year, has been working to fix the team’s behaviour and earn back respect.
He said he was shocked when he learned players had taken sandpaper onto the field to deliberately alter the ball in the third Test in Cape Town.
But he said it was not an isolated issue.
“I can’t understand for a single second how we took sandpaper out in the field. That doesn’t make any sense to me,” he told former teammate Adam Gilchrist in an interview for Fox Sports on Wednesday evening.
“What I do know though is that the issue with people ball-tampering is going on internationally. That’s a real worry.”
Then-captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft all received lengthy bans for the plot to cheat, with Lehmann also standing down.
An independent review into the scandal, released this week, blamed an “arrogant” and “controlling” culture overseen by governing body Cricket Australia, with a win-at-all-costs mentality.
Langer said part of the problem with ball-tampering was unresponsive pitches worldwide, which led to desperation to gain an edge.
Although the use of saliva or sweat to shine the ball is an accepted practice, any other substance – such as sandpaper or sugary residue from sweets – is prohibited.
“I think there’s a couple of issues,” he said. “One is I think we need to get the pitches right around the world, so the ball does move whether it spins or swings.
“But to go the point we did was a huge mistake.”
And Langer promised it will never happen while he is in charge.
“I remember sitting on the sofa the night it happened and as an ex-player and someone who loves the Australian cricket team, I was shocked. I was sad, I was angry,” he said.
“I can promise you it won’t be happening again. We’ve got to make Australians proud.
“There’s no point winning and behaving poorly. I don’t think Australians respect that. We can play hard as long as we win fair.”
Australia face South Africa in three one-day internationals starting in Perth on Sunday, followed by a single Twenty20.