Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon and Cummins denied they were threatening to withdraw from the Wanderers Test if Warner was not banned for his role in the ball-tampering scandal Getty

Australia's frontline bowlers - Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins - have denied that they were threatening to withdraw from the fourth and final Test in South Africa in March last year if David Warner was not banned for his role in the ball-tampering scandal. While Starc was ruled out of the Test with an injury, the other three bowlers participated in the Test.

"We are extremely disappointed in an article which was first published across Fairfax platforms on March 29, 2019," they said in a joint statement on Sunday (March 31). "The article claims we intended to withdraw from the fourth Test during last year's tour of South Africa had David Warner been free to play.

"This claim is disappointing on a number of fronts but most importantly because it is false. False claims circulated in the media, such as these, which question our relationship with David are inflammatory and misleading. As a team we are all focused on moving forward together and helping the Australian Men's team prepare for the World Cup and the Ashes."

After Cameron Bancroft was caught changing the condition of the ball, he was suspended from the Johannesburg Test along with Steve Smith. Warner, however, wasn't implicated and was only found guilty later by Cricket Australia. He was eventually suspended by the board for a year and was forced to return home early from the tour. While Smith and Warner were suspended for a year, Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban.

The incident happened on the fourth day of the Cape Town Test when Bancroft was caught on camera rubbing sandpaper on the ball to aid reverse swing. Smith and Bancroft then went on to accept their mistake in a press conference after the day's play and acknowledged their intentions. Warner, part of the leadership group, had forced Bancroft to carry out the deed while Smith later acknowledged that his mistake was to turn a blind eye to the plan.

"In the room I walked past something and had the opportunity to stop it and I didn't do it and that was my leadership failure. It was a potential for something to happen. It went out and happened on the field. I had the opportunity to stop it rather than say I didn't want to know anything about it. That was my failure of leadership for that and I have taken responsibility for that," he had said.

"Instead, I said 'I don't want to know about it and walked away.' So, that was my chance where I could have stopped something from happening. That's something I have learned over the last nine months. Every decision you make can have a negative outlook. If things go pear-shaped what's it going to look like... If things go well, what's that going to look like. Now it's about learning and almost slowing your thinking down and ensuring you make the right decisions more often than not."

Smith's action, or the lack of it, sparked an outbreak of public anger as Australia cricket slipped to several lows there on. They were hammered in the limited-overs series in England and continued to rack up losses in the series against Pakistan in UAE. They suffered their first ever Test series loss to India at home earlier this year as well. All three have served their suspension and Smith and Warner are likely to be named in the World Cup squad.