Australia ball-tampering: Michael Vaughan 'pretty sure' it took place during winter Ashes

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Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan is "pretty sure" Australia were ball-tampering during their 4-0 winter Ashes series victory.

Australia opening batsman Cameron Bancroft admitted the offence during this week's Test loss to South Africa.

Captain Steve Smith, who knew about the plan in advance, has been banned for one Test and stood down as skipper of his Indian Premier League team.

However, he insisted it was "the first time this has happened".

Television footage on the third day of Australia's third Test against South Africa in Cape Town showed Bancroft take what he said was yellow tape out of his trouser pocket before rubbing the ball.

After the day's play, Smith admitted the team's "leadership group" had a plan, carried out by Bancroft, to tamper with the ball to "get an advantage".

Vaughan, who captained England to an Ashes series victory on home soil in 2005, told BBC Sport: "I cannot think that has been come up with over lunch in Cape Town.

"I look at the amount of tape some of the fielders have worn, particularly during the Ashes series at mid-on and mid-off. You don't have to name names, they know who they are.

"I am pretty sure it was going on throughout the Ashes series - but it was not the reason England lost 4-0. They still would have lost the series."

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He added: "I played cricket for 17 years and there was not a team I played in that did not come close to the line.

"There were many tricks teams would use out in the middle. You would see the ball get bounced into the rough to create reverse swing, you see sweets in the mouth, you see saliva put on the ball to keep the shine on it for longer.

"Is that right? Many will say not, but that is what has happened on the game of cricket for many years and will continue to happen. It is very hard to control.

"One unwritten rule is that you do not take an object out there to tamper with the ball. I am pretty sure the Australians and the players involved in that leadership group will face the consequences."

Vaughan, meanwhile, is not the only former international cricketer to have his suspicions, with ex-South Africa fast bowler Fanie de Villiers saying he told camera operators to keep an eye on the Australians in the field while commentating during the third Test in Cape Town.

"I said earlier on, that if they could get reverse swing in the 26th, 27th, 28th over then they are doing something different from what everyone else does," de Villiers told RSN Radio.

"We actually said to our cameramen, 'go out (and) have a look, boys. They're using something'.

"They searched for an hour and a half until they saw something and then they started following Bancroft and they actually caught him out at the end."

'Australia have identity problem'
Australia's series in South Africa has been marred by controversy.

After the first Test, Australia opener David Warner was fined for misconduct following video footage which appeared to show him having to be restrained by team-mates during an altercation with South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. De Kock contested his charge but was also fined by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Australia coach Darren Lehmann also criticised the "disgraceful" verbal abuse towards his players from the South African crowd at Newlands during the third Test, while Cricket Australia sent a letter of complaint to Cricket South Africa.

But Vaughan said: "This Australian side, for two or three years, have not behaved in a fashion that you want to be around. They have been abusive at times and got away with it.

"There are many players that I know who have come to me and said, 'x and y has been said'. I have not been able to take their word because I have not had the evidence.

"I now look back on those conversations and think they are spot on. It has all come true to light over the past few days.

"This Australia team has got a huge identity problem. They are very self righteous - they have been for a while.

"They talk the game they feel should be played - and then deliver what we saw in Cape Town."

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