AUSTRALIA captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have agreed to stand down from their positions for the remainder for the third Test against South Africa over the ball-tampering scandal.
Smith’s admission of premeditated ball-tampering has led to calls for him to be sacked as skipper and Cricket Australia has taken temporary action while it investigates the incident, in which Cameron Bancroft was caught rubbing a piece of tape, coated with dust from the pitch, on the ball while fielding.
Smith was later handed a one-match suspension and fined 100 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council over the incident.
Bancroft was punished with a fine of 75 per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points.
CA chief executive James Sutherland said: “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.
“This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.
Stunned and shocked are two words that come to mind and then when you learn more about it I feel embarrassed and sadFormer Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist
“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.
“All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority.”
Before the decision of Smith and Warner was made public, former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said he was “stunned”, “shocked” and “embarrassed” by the admission of premeditated ball-tampering.
Smith said he was “incredibly sorry” for bringing the game “into disrepute” after team-mate Cameron Bancroft was caught rubbing a piece of tape, coated with dust from the pitch, on the ball while fielding during the third Test against South Africa.
The scandal left Smith fighting for his future as captain.
“Stunned and shocked are two words that come to mind and then when you learn more about it I feel embarrassed and sad,” Gilchrist said in a BBC radio interview
“It’s not what should happen. It should not happen. That’s the disappointing thing, it’s not (a) spur-of-the moment decision. It’s not an under-pressure decision where you make a decision and, ‘It’s okay I got it wrong because of a pressure moment’. It’s pre-planned and premeditated. It’s just not acceptable.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull even waded into the debate on Sunday and branded the actions of Smith and Bancroft “completely beyond belief” and “a shocking disappointment” and called for Cricket Australia, which is investigating the incident, to take “decisive action soon”.
“We all woke up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” Turnbull told reporters in Australia.
“It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating. After all, our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play.
“How can our team be engaged in treating (cricket) like this? It beggars belief.”