Explosive Paine tampering claims won’t distract South Africa from T20 World Cup focus

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South Africa have brushed aside Tim Paine’s explosive claim they also tampered with the ball in the controversial 2018 Test series, adamant it will not distract them during the Twenty20 World Cup.

Paine created headlines this week when he wrote in his autobiography a Proteas player had dug his fingernails into the ball in the Test immediately after Sandpapergate.

The former Australia Test captain also alleged South African broadcasters covered up the incident, after claiming he saw the footage on the big screen during the fourth Test at Johannesburg while batting.

“I was standing at the bowler’s end in the next Test when a shot came up on the screen of a South African player at mid-off having a huge crack at the ball,” Paine said.

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“The television director, who had played an active role in catching out Cam (Cameron Bancroft), immediately pulled the shot off the screen.

Five players from that Test feature in the current South African T20 squad, with the news coming as they finalise preparations for Thursday’s clash with Bangladesh.

But quick Lungi Ngidi, who was in South Africa’s squad for the 2018 series but did not play in Johannesburg, said players had not read the comments or discussed the issue.

“We haven’t spoken about anything in terms of our team now, no we definitely haven’t,” said Ngidi.

Tim Paine

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“That’s stuff the guys are writing in their own books and we will see it when we get a chance to read it.

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“But for now our focus is here so we are just brushing past those things.”

Ngidi also said it was inevitable headlines would return about the 2018 series and he was not surprised it was a point of conversation. Leaked extracts from former South Africa captain Faf du Plessis’s book this week also included claims Australia had tampered with the ball in the first Test of the 2018 series.

Australian players have already publicly denied those claims.

“I don’t find it strange (that it is in the headlines again) because I think at some point it was always going to be spoken about again,” said Ngidi.

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“Now the guys are retiring and writing books and sharing their stories, so it was bound to come back.

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“It has obviously come back at a time when there is a lot of media around this tournament as well, so it probably does highlight that situation.

“But in terms of distracting us, I don’t think it has at all. It has nothing to do with us at all, so we’re pretty chilled about that.”

South Africa desperately need a win against Bangladesh in Sydney, after their World Cup opener against Zimbabwe was washed out with victory in sight.

India also face off against qualifiers Netherlands in the second match of the SCG double-header.


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