Ball-tampering: Steve Smith, David Warner get 12-month bans
Cameron Bancroft gets nine months as Cricket Australia punishes errant players
Australia cricket captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have been banned from playing for their country for 12 months by Cricket Australia (CA) for their role in a ball-tampering plot in the Test series in South Africa. The player who actually tampered with the ball, Cameron Bancroft, has been banned for nine months.
Smith, Warner and Bancroft tried to illegally change the condition of the ball by rubbing it with a piece of yellow adhesive tape and some dirt. CA said the trio would return home.
The CA punishment followed an internal investigation into the extent of the cheating plot. Smith confirmed the 12-month ban to a small group of Australian reporters at the team hotel before CA officially announced it.
The ban will include all top-level cricket in Australia for the next year.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine will take over the captaincy for the fourth and final Test starting in Johannesburg on Friday, with hosts South Africa leading a bad-tempered series 2-1. Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns will replace the exiled trio in South Africa. Smith hugged Paine as he prepared to leave the team hotel in Johannesburg to fly home.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has also barred Smith and Warner from taking part in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). Smith and Warner were supposed to captain their respective franchises, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, in this edition but stepped down in the wake of the scandal. CA’s sanction paved the way for the BCCI to ban the duo.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told reporters: “We wanted everything in our own hands. First, we waited for the ICC’s decision, after that Cricket Australia, and then we decided on the matter. The replacements will be made available to the two teams. We did not take any decision in haste, it was a well thought out decision.”
Warner had stepped down as Sunrisers captain as reports emerged that he had been ostracized by Australia’s fast bowlers, who feel he unfairly linked them to the row. Smith was replaced as the Royals skipper in the Twenty20 competition due to start from 7 April.
Coach Darren Lehmann, however, was not punished.
“I understand and share the anger and disappointment of Australian fans,” CA chief James Sutherland said of the controversy in the third Test in Cape Town last Saturday.
“On behalf of Cricket Australia, I want to apologize to all Australians that these events have taken place, especially to all the kids.”