Test captains have a big responsibility says Joe Root as Ashes series questioned

ENGLAND captain Joe Root insists he saw no reason to suspect Australia of ball-tampering during this winter's Ashes.

England's Joe Root looks back after being caught out on 51 by New Zealand's BJ Watling. Picture: AP/Ross Setford

Root’s team lost 4-0 to opponents who have since become mired in controversy after captain Steve Smith admitted he and batsman Cameron Bancroft hatched a plan to tamper with the ball in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

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Smith will miss the final Test, starting in Johannesburg on Friday, after being banned by the International Cricket Council following his admission of wrongdoing.

He is also set to discover this week whether his employers at Cricket Australia have decided on further punishment for him or his deputy David Warner, after already standing both down from their positions of responsibility.

Root, speaking after England had continued their losing streak in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland, did not corroborate reports which have suggested Warner tampered with the ball during the Ashes too.

As well as photographs depicting Bancroft apparently stuffing sugar - a potential if unlikely abrasive - into his pocket as he made a cup of tea during an interval against England in the final Test in Sydney, it has been reported Warner had his own patented methods of scuffing the ball this winter.

Australia's Steve Smith. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

However, Root said: “I personally wasn’t aware of anything going on throughout that series.”

Bancroft and Smith were charged by match referee Andy Pycroft at Newlands after television cameras showed the opener pulling a piece of yellow tape out of his pocket while handling the ball during South Africa’s second innings.

Root insists he would never tolerate any attempt at such sharp practice by England.

Australia's Steve Smith. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

“It is disappointing for Test cricket and cricket in general,” he said. “I think as a captain ... you’re responsible for the way everyone else (in your team) behaves, and you want to make sure that’s within the laws of the game and within the spirit of the game.

“I just have to look after my group of guys and make sure I’m happy with the way they’re conducting themselves - and if not make sure things are done right.”

Root would take action if he thought it necessary, but expects his team to know the difference between right and wrong.

“As an international player you know the rules ... it’s as simple as that,” he added. “Every time you go out and represent your country you know there’s a load of cameras around, you’re under the spotlight.

“I think it’s really important you, of course, give absolutely everything on the field and make sure you do everything you can to win - but do it in the right way.”