Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft said he is now a vastly different person compared to the one which was caught ball-tampering at Newlands, Cape Town and revealed he considered walking away from cricket to become a yoga teacher. Bancroft revealed it all in an open letter to himself.
The opener received a nine-month ban from the international and domestic game for his role in the scandal in South Africa that rocked cricket, in which he used sandpaper to try to alter the condition of the ball. Then captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner received stricter punishment – both were suspended for a year. Bancroft’s ban ends December end while Smith, Warner will be available for selection after March end.
A day after Steve Smith broke his silence and spoke with the media since the controversial moment, Bancroft, too, reemerged into public life with a week left into the ban. He did so in the form of an open letter to his former self published in The Western Australian.
In it, Bancroft describes the major influence Australia head coach Justin Langer has had on him, along with West Australian mentor Adam Voges. He said a crucial moment was Voges asking him to justify why he should be on a pre-season trip to Brisbane for the Western Warriors Sheffield Shield team.
“On your way to present your case to your coach you realise this is the moment when you begin to become OK with the thought of never having cricket as part of your life again,” he wrote in the self-addressed letter. “Until you are able to acknowledge that you are Cameron Bancroft, the person who plays cricket as a profession, and not Cameron Bancroft the cricketer, you will not be able to move forward. This will become a defining moment for you.”
As a coping mechanism, Bancroft turned to yoga and almost gave up the sport to become a teacher of the discipline. “Maybe cricket isn’t for you, you’ll ask yourself … will you return? Yoga will be such a fulfilling experience,” he wrote.
He also wrote how accepting the reality was part of the process of moving forward – including being referred to as a cheat by many. “Many people will judge you as a cheat, but that is OK. Always love and respect everyone. You will love those people because you forgive them. Just like you’re going to forgive yourself,” he wrote. “You know you cannot say sorry enough, but actually it is time you allow your cricket to be about what you have learnt and use this opportunity to make a great impact.
Bancroft detailed how returning home to Perth from South Africa and being ushered out of the back of the airport, the press conference at the WACA, and the early months of the bans were the toughest. He, however, acknowledges time with family has helped turn his life upside down.
“With the support of family, friends and staff close to you at the WACA, you will begin the journey of forgiveness of the self, and of others,” he wrote. “You learn self-awareness about who you are, about love, about your purpose and find what brings you joy. It will begin by waking up at the same time each day, going to the gym, meditation and plenty of what you have never been so good at dealing with… “spare time”. It used to be just cricket – literally, that was it – but it will change.
“This early period brings about its own challenges. Running 35km a week and practising yoga each day gives you a release. You won’t realise until later how significant the rolling out of that mat will be for you. It will heal you from the inside out. Peeling back the layers of who you think you are and understanding again the values of being true to yourself. The simple mistake of doing something because you were wanting to fit in had come at a huge cost. Yoga will teach you how to be true to yourself.”
Bancroft is set to play the Big Bash League (BBL) once his ban ends. He has already been training with Perth Scorchers.