Steve Smith to stay captain as Cricket Australia probes ball tampering scandal

There have been calls for Steve Smith to step down or be sacked over the premeditated plan hatched during the lunch break on Saturday’s third day in Newlands, after the Australia captain admitted being the mastermind.

cricket Updated: Mar 25, 2018 12:06 IST
Agencies, Melbourne
Steve Smith,Cricket Australia,Cameron Bancroft
Australia captain Steve Smith and teammate Cameron Bancroft sensationally admitted to ball-tampering during the third Test against South Africa on Saturday.(AFP)

Cricket Australia said today that Steve Smith will remain captain while they investigate the ball-tampering scandal during the third Test against South Africa which has plunged the game into crisis.

There have been calls for Smith to step down or be sacked over the premeditated plan hatched during the lunch break on Saturday’s third day in Newlands, after the captain admitted being the mastermind.

READ | Ex-Australia captain Michael Clarke wishes ball tampering just a dream

Chief executive James Sutherland said Sunday Cricket Australia were “extremely disappointed and shocked” but added that the governing body wanted to get a clearer picture of the facts before making any decisions.

“I understand that that is not necessarily the fullness of response that everyone is looking for right now. But you will appreciate that there’s an element of process that needs to be undertaken here,” Sutherland told reporters in Melbourne.

“We will work very hard over the next couple of days to get to the bottom of it -- to understand the big picture, to understand the detail and to be making further comment on that in due course.”

CA’s head of integrity and head of team performance were flying to South Africa to conduct the investigation.

Television footage showed Smith’s teammate Cameron Bancroft, 25, taking a yellow object out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session and appearing to rub it on the ball.

He was later charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball.

READ | Cricket Australia to conduct investigation into ball tampering scandal

Sutherland said he had not spoken to Smith but stressed repeatedly he was unhappy about the incident.

“I have very strong and clear views about the responsibility of the Australian cricket team to play the game in the right spirit,” he added.

“And I don’t think anyone will be under any illusions as to what I think about this.” Smith, 28, has said he would not quit, adding: “I still think I’m the right person for the job.”

‘Blatant cheating’

The CA chief said Australian cricket fans had “every reason to wake up and not be proud of the team”.

“This is a very sad day for Australian cricket. I’m not happy about this at all ... And I feel like Australian cricket fans feel right now.”

There was widespread disbelief and anger in Australia as the news hit the headlines on Sunday morning, with Smith’s predecessor Michael Clarke saying he was feeling “pretty emotional”.

“I can’t believe if the leadership group has made a decision to do this, that they have gone and got the young kid (Bancroft) who is playing his eighth test match to do that,” Clarke told broadcaster Channel Nine.

Clarke said he felt sorry for Smith, but added that the tampering was “blatant cheating”.

READ | Australia calls on Steve Smith to give up captaincy after ball tampering controversy

“It is disgraceful. It is not accepted by anyone. Particularly in Australia. We’ve got the best bowling attack in the world. We don’t need to cheat to beat anybody.”

Players’ body the Australian Cricketers Association said in a statement Sunday that “it seems serious errors of judgement have been committed”.

“It is right for match officials and Cricket Australia to investigate the full extent of what has transpired. Cricket is a sport synonymous with the highest standards of behaviour,” the statement said.

“Standards which must be observed at all times. And standards upheld and nurtured by generations of players.”

First Published: Mar 25, 2018 11:59 IST