Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Wednesday questioned the timing of the publication of the interviews of suspended cricketers Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft about the ball-tampering episode earlier this year, suggesting it might distract Tim Paine and Co during the Test series against India.
Australian broadcaster Fox Cricket telecast both pre-recorded interviews, conducted by former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist, during lunch and tea on day one of the Boxing Day Test on Wednesday.
Bancroft opened up about the events that led to the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year, which led to heavy sanctions for him, Smith, and David Warner.
Bancroft revealed that Warner, the vice-captain back then, had suggested to him to use a sandpaper to scrub the ball.
Smith, meanwhile, said that former Cricket Australia officials James Sutherland and Pat Howard had told the team, “We don’t pay you to play, we pay you to win.” This was after Australia had lost Test matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Ponting said he was alarmed by some of the revelations by the banned duo.
“I’ve seen a couple of headlines [since the interviews], which I’ve been shocked at, I must admit,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au. “Some of the things that have been said have been quite shocking to me.”
“We’re nine months on from this stuff and there’s still a lot being spoken about what happened in Cape Town.
“Now that those stories are out there, it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction is tomorrow in newspapers and news channels. There’s enough in those stories to raise a few eyebrows.”
Ponting expressed his concern over the interviews playing on the mind of the Australian players, who find themselves chasing the Boxing Day Test after India reached a position of command on day one.
“I think the guys that are not banned have had long enough to move on from that sort of stuff,” the two-time World Cup-winning captain said. “The guys that were banned have had to live it on a daily basis, but the other guys not quite as much.
“I’m pretty sure that Painey [Paine] and some of the other guys, they have to leave that behind and move on and worry about what’s happening in the middle of the MCG. Because right now, the series is at absolute fever pitch … so the less distractions the better.”