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Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft to face ‘significant sanctions’

Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will face “serious sanctions” after they were found guilty of breaking Cricket Australia’s code of conduct for attempting to tamper with ball in Cape Town Test.

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2018 11:08 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press, Johannesburg
Steve Smith,David Warner,Cameron Bancroft
Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were sent home following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.(REUTERS)

Angry and with his voice trembling at times, Australia’s cricket chief James Sutherland announced on Tuesday that team captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will face “serious sanctions” in the next 24 hours, which could end the international career of at least one of them.

The three players, who plotted to cheat in a Test in South Africa, were also all to be sent home from the tour in disgrace for their roles in planning and carrying out a ball tampering scheme in the third test in Cape Town over the weekend.

They will face the outrage of their nation when they get home.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland, forced to fly halfway round the world to deal with one of the most embarrassing and damaging moments in the history of one of cricket’s biggest teams, said he was “angry and disappointed.”

“This is not a good day for Australian cricket,” Sutherland said at a press conference in Johannesburg.

“In regards to the three players on report, I want to stress that we are contemplating significant sanctions in each case,” Sutherland said. “These sanctions will reflect the gravity with which we view what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket.”

He stopped short of announcing any punishments for the three players, though, as an internal investigation into the cheating conspiracy that traumatized a country of cricket fans is yet to be completed.

Most of the players and backroom staff had been interviewed by Cricket Australia’s integrity chief Iain Roy, Sutherland said. Roy still had to complete his report, but would do so in the next 24 hours.

Sutherland insisted that initial findings showed that Smith, Warner and Bancroft were the only members of the Australian team who had “prior knowledge” of the tampering plot. Coach Darren Lehmann, a target for scrutiny for the Australian media, played no role in the cheating, Sutherland said, and would continue as coach.

Sutherland promised that the final fate of Smith, Warner and Bancroft would be known in the next 24 hours. They would also be sent home in the same time period, where they will face the outrage of Australians who hold their cricket team dear and have seen its reputation left in tatters by the scandal.

“It’s about the integrity and reputation of Australian cricket and Australian sport,” Sutherland said. “Ultimately it’s about whether Australians can feel proud of their sporting teams.”

The actions of Smith and Warner, the leaders of the team, and Bancroft, a newcomer roped into the conspiracy, have also reverberated through the cricketing world, which has pounced on the apparent hypocrisy of an Australian team that often held itself up as the moral compass of the game.

Smith, Warner and the other Australian players, who left Cape Town earlier Tuesday to travel to Johannesburg, were shadowed at airports by packs of reporters and television crews. One reporter asked Warner repeatedly if he had engaged in ball tampering during the recent Ashes series against England, the biggest contest in cricket.

That underlined Sutherland’s later comments that this Australia team’s entire reputation has been decimated.

James Sutherland, CEO of Cricket Australia, speaks to the media in Johannesburg. (AFP)

Warner, a pugnacious batsman who has a long lost list of disciplinary infractions in his career, was confirmed as being part of the plot for the first time officially.

He reportedly was the central figure in the investigation now, and the man who suggested the tampering. As the chief culprit, Warner was now so unpopular within his own team that some of his teammates were calling for him to be thrown out before Sutherland’s announcement, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Australians back home are now calling for the 31-year-old Warner to be expelled permanently from the team and his international career ended.

Smith, the golden boy of Australian cricket after leading the team to a 4-0 Ashes rout of England a few months ago, is expected to be fired as captain but could still resume his test career as a batsman in time.

All three face hefty bans considering the damage caused.

It all played out in a humiliating way for Australian cricket.

Smith and Bancroft confessed that, after a dressing room discussion during a break, they decided they would tamper with the ball during the third test using a piece of yellow adhesive tape and some dirt collected from the side of the pitch. Bancroft was tasked to do the on-field tampering but botched it when he was caught by television cameras doing the tampering and then trying to hide the tape down the front of his trousers when he aroused the suspicion of the umpires. The two were forced to come clean amid overwhelming evidence from the TV cameras.

Australia also lost the test by a crushing 322 runs.

Tim Paine will take over as captain of the team for the fourth test in South Africa starting on Friday, with Smith, Warner and Bancroft on a flight home Wednesday morning. Their places in the Australia squad will be taken by Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns, who were all flying over to South Africa.

Australia still has a series to play in, and trails 2-1 ahead of the final test in Johannesburg. Engulfed in a crisis, Australia faces losing a series in South Africa for the first time in nearly 50 years.

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 07:47 IST