Australia’s captain suspended for cheating in a cricket match with South Africa

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Steve Smith and David Warner have stood down as Captain and Vice-Captain of the Australian Men’s Cricket Team for the remainder of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.

Tim Paine will step in as Acting Captain for the remainder of the Test. Both Smith and Warner will play under him as Captain.

“Following discussions with Steve Smith and David Warner they have agreed to stand down as Captain and Vice-Captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said in a statement.

“This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.

“As I said earlier today, Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Smith has admitted his involvement in the scandal, while young opener Cameron Bancroft has been charged by the match referee following the premeditated ball-tampering in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Australian Sports Commission this afternoon issued a statement on behalf of Chair John Wylie, CEO Kate Palmer and the Board to condemn the incident.

“The ASC calls for (Smith) to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball.

“This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.”

Smith earlier said he would not stand down over the furore, despite accepting he and his leadership group discussed the merits of using tape to alter the ball at lunch on day three of the Test against South Africa.

Bancroft was caught with the tape, which had debris from the pitch, while working on the ball.

The 25-year-old also attempted to hide the tape from umpires, by stuffing it in his pants.

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Bancroft now faces a hefty fine and either three or four demerit points, which could trigger a one-Test suspension.

Today, Sutherland announced a Cricket Australia integrity unit official would travel to South Africa to investigate on the ground.

“Australian fans want to be proud of their cricket team… I think this morning they have every reason to wake up and not be proud,” he said.

Ball-tampering was “neither within the laws of the game or in the spirit of the game,” Sutherland said.

“We are extremely disappointed and shocked at what we woke up to this morning, and secondly we are dealing with this issue with the utmost urgency and seriousness,” he added.

“I understand that’s not the form of response that everyone’s looking for right now,” Sutherland said, and refused to comment on speculation as to whether or not Darren Lehmann was aware of the tampering.

“We certainly don’t have all of the evidence at hand, and we need someone to go over there and talk to the relevant people…”

Stars outraged

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke was among the millions of Aussies stunned by the news.

“Cameron Bancroft, this is his eighth Test match, I can’t believe if the leadership group has made a decision to do this, that they’ve gone and got the young kid who’s playing his eighth Test match to do that,” he said on Sports Sunday.

“As a leader, you can’t ask someone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself, number one.

“Steve Smith, he’s such a lovely, lovely guy, you can see there he’s just shattered – I just, I really feel sorry for him.

“It’s premeditated cheating, it’s blatant cheating, it’s disgraceful, it’s not accept by anyone…”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan led a chorus of condemnation and criticism from other former players.

“Steve Smith, his Team & ALL the management will have to accept that whatever happens in their careers they will all be known for trying to CHEAT the game,” he tweeted.

Allan Border said on commentary: “If you’re caught doing the wrong thing, you’ve got to pay the penalty.”

Former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith described footage of Bancroft with the tape as “damning”.

Cameron Bancroft. (AAP file image)Cameron Bancroft. (AAP file image)

Bancroft’s explanation

The young opener said he accepts the incident will damage his reputation.

“I’m not proud of what’s happened and I have to live with the consequences and the damage to my own reputation that comes with,” he said.

“I’ll do my best to move forward and play cricket.

“I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from rough patches on the wicket, to change the ball condition.

“It didn’t work. The umpires didn’t change the ball.

“Once being sighted on the screen I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers.

“I was in the vicinity of the area when the leadership group were discussing it.

“I was obviously nervous about it. Because with hundreds of cameras around that’s always the risk, isn’t it?

“I sit before you today and I’m not proud of what’s happened today.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I want to be here (taking ownership of the mistake) because I’m accountable for my actions.”

Steve Smith insisted coaching staff were not aware of the ball-tampering plan. Steve Smith insisted coaching staff were not aware of the ball-tampering plan.

Smith’s confession

Steve Smith has acknowledged his involvement but said he will not consider standing down.

“I won’t be considering stepping down. I still think I’m the right person for the job,” he said.

“Today was a big mistake on my behalf and on the leadership group’s behalf as well.

“I take responsibility as the captain. I need to take control of the ship.

“I’m incredibly sorry for trying to bring the game into disrepute the way we did.

“This is certainly something I’m not proud of and something that I can hope to learn from and come back strong from.”

Smith refused to name the other players involved in the discussion.

“I am embarrassed,” he said.

“I know the boys in the shed are embarrassed as well and I feel for Cam.

“It’s a poor reflection on everyone in that dressing room, particularly the leaders.

“If we weren’t caught I’d still feel incredibly bad about it … it’s a big error in judgment.

“It was a poor choice and deeply regrettable.

“I can promise you it won’t happen again.”

The Australian cricket team has been caught cheating

Series so far

The four-Test series between Australia and South Africa has been marred by a handful of ugly controversies, starting with a staircase stoush between David Warner and Quinton de Kock.

The ball-tampering inside came as the series was locked 2-1, with the Australian team’s desperation to win apparently overriding their moral compasses.

Off the field, Cricket Australia has been trying to improve the image of its side while lodging an official complaint about the vile nature of abuse from South African spectators.

“The Australian camp has been lecturing people lately on how the game should be played and a line that shouldn’t be crossed,” former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports.

“Some of the stuff that has come out of the Australian camp, especially, has been laughable.

“Well, it looks like they’re on the wrong side of the line here.

“It does not look good for the image of the game.

“It looks terrible, a premeditated move to get reverse swing and a blatant attempt to ball tamper.”

Injured Proteas paceman Dale Steyn and recently-retired batsman Kevin Pietersen questioned whether coach Darren Lehmann was aware of Australia’s plan, something Smith has denied.

“This will be Darren Lehmann’s greatest test as a coach, cos (sic) I will struggle to believe that this was all Bancroft’s idea,” Pietersen posted on Twitter.

Steyn replied that “nothing in professional sport is done without the consent of your captain and coach”.

With AAP.

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