Australia bowlers deny boycott claim over David Warner

From left to right: Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood
Cummins, Lyon, Starc and Hazlewood are Australia's leading bowlers

Four Australia bowlers have denied they would have boycotted the fourth Test against South Africa in March 2018 if batsman David Warner had played.

A Sydney Morning Herald report claimed Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc were the players who considered not playing.

Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were initially punished for ball-tampering in the third Test before Warner was also reprimanded.

The bowlers said the claim was "false".

In a statement issued by Cricket Australia from the quartet, they said: "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."

Captain Smith, vice-captain Warner and fellow batsman Bancroft were banned from international and Australian domestic cricket after Bancroft used sandpaper on the ball during Australia's third Test in South Africa.

Smith, 29, and Warner, 32, were banned for 12 months, while Bancroft, 26, was given a nine-month suspension.

Smith and Warner, whose bans ended on 28 March, were not included in Australia's squad for their one-day series against Pakistan, despite being eligible for the final two matches, and are instead playing in the Indian Premier League.

But the pair did meet Australia players and staff before the series in Dubai, and Warner said there were "big hugs and cuddles" as "the boys were very accepting of us coming in".

The five-Test 2019 Ashes series between Australia and England starts on 1 August at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

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