Australia will not be distracted by new claims of ball tampering

Mitch Marsh insisted that Australia will not be distracted at the T20 World Cup by the new claims former South Africa captain Faf du Plessis made in relation to the 2018 sandpaper crisis.

Australia lost the tournament opener to New Zealand’s Trans-Tasman rivals on Saturday, although the hosts and reigning champions can get their campaign back on track against Sri Lanka in Perth.

But Tuesday’s game was overshadowed by excerpts from Du Plessis’ book in which he details how the Proteas suspected Australia had tampered with the ball before being caught in Cape Town four years ago.

New Zealand defeated Australia on Saturday (Rick Rycroft / AP)

Marsh said, “I’m not a big reader, so I’m not sure what will come of it. We have a World Cup to focus on as a group. We are focused solely on that. We are a very close-knit and close-knit group.

“I’m looking forward to the next two weeks.”

Du Plessis, in his forthcoming autobiography which will be serialized by News Corp, argues that South Africa was suspicious of the amount of Australian bowler hats obtained in Durban.

This prompted Du Plessis and South Africa to watch “the second test … through binoculars, so they could follow the ball more closely while Australia was on the pitch”.

Du Plessis added: “When we noticed the ball was going to David Warner quite often, our locker room must have looked like a birdwatching hideaway as we peered intently through our binoculars.”

In the third test, Cameron Bancroft attempted to use sandpaper to stiffen one side of the ball before being caught on camera by hiding the evidence in his pants.

Bancroft served a nine-month ban and one-year suspensions were granted to Steve Smith and David Warner, who as the gang leader of the scandal was struck with a lifetime leadership ban from Cricket Australia.

But CA is considering changing its code of conduct to allow Warner to lead the team if Pat Cummins is absent from testing or ODI or Aaron Finch has to miss a T20.

Marsh backed Warner to focus on issues on the pitch as Australia cannot afford another Super 12 mistake after a humble 89-point defeat to Kiwis that impacted their net rate.

David Warner was hit with lifetime leadership by Cricket Australia after the sandpaper gate, but it could be overturned (Rick Rycroft / AP)

David Warner was hit with lifetime leadership by Cricket Australia after the sandpaper gate, but it could be overturned (Rick Rycroft / AP)

Marsh said, “He’s an amazing person to have around our group. He is a great leader. He just has so much energy. He is our unofficial team manager, so this probably distracts him more than anything else.

“He has had an amazing career. He has clearly been able to block out a lot of distractions during all of this and this is what separates the best players in the world from the rest is that they are focused solely on their work.

“The way we play is vital for our team. Whenever we see him with his back to the wall, he always defends us “.

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