Aussies captain, vice-captain forced to stand down over ball-tampering

David Warner is bowled by Kagiso Rabada on the second day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, March 23, 2018.
Associated Preess / Halden Krog

Australia’s captain and vice-captain Steven Smith and David Warner, respectively, have been forced to stand down over ball-tampering in remainder of the Third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Smith and Warner are the first fallouts of the ball-tampering confession Australia made on the third day of the Test match, reported ESPNcricinfo on Sunday.

It said wicketkeeper Tim Paine will lead the side for the last two days of the contest.

“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,” said Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland on the morning of the fourth day’s play. “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,” he added. “And, on this occasion, these standards have not been met.

“All Australians, like us, want answers, and we will keep you updated on our findings as a matter of priority,” Sutherland continued.

The CA chairman David Peever said the decision to appoint Paine followed an emergency Board meeting, ESPNcricinfo said, adding that CA integrity chief Iain Roy and team performance manager Pat Howard were en route to Cape Town.

“The Board of Cricket Australia has endorsed Tim Paine to step in as acting captain for the remainder of this Test,” he said. “Both Steve and David will take to the field today under Tim’s captaincy.

“The Board fully supports the process for an immediate investigation into what occurred in Cape Town,” Peever said. “We regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness and urgency. We will ensure we have all information available to make the right decisions for Australian cricket.”

Roy’s arrival and investigation may result in charges under CA’s code of behavior, which features separate clauses relating to “unbecoming conduct” and “cheating,” ESPNcricinfo said.

It said the decision to remove Smith and Warner, who took the field at Newlands under Paine’s leadership, came hours after the Australian government had called on Cricket Australia to take such a decision.

The country’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also called the incident a “shocking disappointment,” ESPNcricinfo said.

It said the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair John Wylie, the ASC Board, and chief executive officer Kate Palmer – essentially speaking for the Australian government – called for severe action against more of the team.

“The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport,” it said in a statement. “The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country.

“Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him 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,” the statement added. “This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.”

The incident took place during the afternoon session and was picked up on by TV cameras, ESPNcricinfo said.

It said a small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball. Bancroft was also captured taking it from his pocket and placing it down his trousers, ESPNcricinfo said.

It said the footage showed Bancroft rubbing the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers.

ESPNcricinfo said Bancroft put the object down his pants “apparently after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann over walkie talkie.

“Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground,” ESPNcricinfo said.

It said the umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, “though they did not choose to change the ball or penalize the Australians five runs – the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball.”

ESPNcricinfo said when Bancroft spoke to the umpires, “he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers.

“Smith and Bancroft owned up to the offence at the press conference after play on the third day, and Smith said the leadership group within the team had known about the plan to tamper with the ball,” ESPNcricinfo said.

Steven Smith of Australia is struck by the ball on the second day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, March 23, 2018.
Associated Press / Halden Krog

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