Australia won’t be distracted by new sandpapergate claims, Mitch Marsh insists

Faf du Plessis has revealed South Africa suspected Australia of ball-tampering before they were caught out at Cape Town four years ago

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

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

But Tuesday’s match has been overshadowed by excerpts from Du Plessis’ book in which he details how the Proteas suspected Australia of ball-tampering before they were caught out at Cape Town four years ago.

Marsh said: “I’m not a big reader, so I’m not sure what’s coming out there. We’ve got a World Cup to focus on as a group. We’re solely focused on that. We’re a really close and tight-knit group.

“I’m just looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”

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Du Plessis, in his soon-to-be released autobiography, contends South Africa were suspicious at the amount of reverse swing Australia’s bowlers obtained at Durban.

That prompted Du Plessis and South Africa to watch “the second Test…through binoculars, so that we could follow the ball more closely while Australia was fielding”.

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

In the third Test, Cameron Bancroft attempted to use sandpaper to rough up one side of the ball before being caught on camera hiding the evidence down his trousers.

Bancroft served a nine-month ban and year-long suspensions were given to Steve Smith and David Warner, who as the ringleader of the scandal was hit with a lifetime leadership ban by Cricket Australia.

We’ve got a World Cup to focus on as a group. We’re solely focused on that. We’re a really close and tight-knit group

But CA is considering whether to change its code of conduct to allow Warner to lead the side if Pat Cummins is absent from Tests or ODIs or Aaron Finch has to skip a T20.

Marsh backed Warner to focus on on-field matters as Australia can ill-afford another slip-up in the Super 12s after a humbling 89-run defeat against the Kiwis that has impacted their net run-rate.

Marsh said: “He is an incredible person to have around our group. He is a great leader. He has just got so much energy. He is our unofficial team manager, so that probably distracts him more than anything.

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“He has had an amazing career. He has clearly been able to block out a lot of distractions throughout that and that’s what separates the best players in the world from the rest is they’re solely focused on their job.

“He is vitally important to our team, the way we play. Any time we’ve seen him with his back against the wall, he always stands up for us.”

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