Cricket Australia's CEO James Sutherland speaks to a packed media conference in Melbourne on March 25, 2018, after addressing the issue of Australia's ball tampering charges laid during their cricket Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. Image Credit: AFP

Australia captain Steve Smith has been suspended for one test by the International Cricket Council following ball tampering scandal.

Smith stands down as captain over ball tampering

Earlier on Sunday, Smith stepped down as captain and David Warner stepped down as vice-captain following the ball tampering scandal in South Africa, Cricket Australia said in a statement.

Also read in this piece:
• What is ball tampering and how does it affect the game
• When cricketers relied purely on their skills to win games
• Historical instances of ball-tampering in cricket
• A line Steve Smith crossed
• Players slammed for being out of touch with a furious public
• Who said what?


Wicketkeeper Tim Paine, 33, would step in as acting captain for the remainder of the ongoing third test against South Africa, CA added.

Smith said he was embarrassed and took responsibility for the actions of his side after they were charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball on Saturday but he will not be stepping down as skipper.

Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, 25, the most junior member in the side, was the player charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for trying to change the condition of the ball using sticky tape and grit from the pitch.

- Reuters

Watch our sports team review the situation after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa


A line Steve Smith crossed

Sydney Steve Smith has established himself as the world's premier Test batsman but serious lapses of judgement have tarnished his achievements on the field.

The hyperactive and unorthodox right-hander has drawn regular comparisons with the legendary Donald Bradman as his batting has gone from strength to strength.

But Smith has also been slammed as a cheat after he owned up to a ball-tampering conspiracy in South Africa, prompting a clamour for him to be stripped of the Australian captaincy.

Originally selected as a leg spinner who batted down the order, Smith developed his unusual technique to the extent that he was unbreakable at times during the recent Ashes series against England.

Smith hit a career-best 239 in the series-clinching third Test in Perth, passing 1,000 Test runs for 2017 along the way - the fourth year in a row he has reached the milestone.

Accolades poured in for the 28-year-old, who sits top of the Test rankings and whose batting has seemed unburdened by the demands of captaincy.

Yet critics will point to flashes of petulance and poor decision-making by Smith, who succeeded Michael Clarke as full-time Test skipper in 2015, when he was just 26.

Even before Saturday's stunning ball-tampering revelation, Smith was badly caught out a year ago during the tour of India.

Smith frankly admitted to a "brain fade" after he looked up at the Bangalore players' balcony while deciding whether to review an umpire's decision, apparently hoping for guidance.

The rules of the game stipulate that a player cannot seek off-field guidance in such circumstances.

Smith also has a history of on-field flare-ups, including a fine for dissent in the 2016 Christchurch Test and hostile exchanges with bowlers James Anderson and Kagiso Rabada.

"I need to be better as a leader. For me it's about trying to learn from my mistakes and improve," Smith said after his fine in New Zealand.

But with vice-captain David Warner also fined for an ugly confrontation with Quinton de Kock during the current series, some see a pattern of bad behaviour in Smith's team.

"I've started to become more and more offended by the arrogance of some of the players in the way they behave," Jim Maxwell, senior cricket commentator for Australia's ABC, told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

Born in Sydney in 1989, Smith made his first-class debut for New South Wales in 2008, graduating to the Test team as frontline spinner and number eight batsman two years later.

He was dropped during the 2010-2011 Ashes but reappeared as a batting force when he returned to the Test team in 2013, scoring 92 against India in Mohali.

Smith scored his maiden Test century with 138 not out against England at The Oval, and then starred in Australia's 5-0 home Ashes whitewash with tons in Perth and Sydney.

Smith became Australia's captain-in-waiting when, while filling in for injured skipper Clarke on the 2014-2015 tour of India, he scored centuries in all four Tests.

Smith has long prided himself in what he calls Australia's "hard, aggressive cricket" without crossing an indefinable "line".

"There's a line. We'll head-butt the line but we won't go over it," spinner Nathan Lyon said ahead of the Ashes series.

However, with the clamour growing for Smith to be sacked, perhaps the line has finally been crossed.

- AFP


Aussie media slams 'arrogance' of out-of-touch cricketers

Melbourne - A ball-tampering scandal enveloping Australia's cricket team was described as a dark day for the sport, as critics slammed the players for being out of touch with a furious public.

The premeditated plan to alter the condition of the ball during Saturday's third day of the third Test against South Africa at Newlands dominated news headlines and captain Steve Smith and his teammates were widely condemned.

Smith has admitted he was the mastermind of the premeditated plan hatched during the lunch break, adding that the team's "leadership group knew about it".

"We now find we have sent a squad of cricketers, pockets stuffed with money, tape and pitch litter, determined to stretch the game's rules and etiquette until there is nothing left to do but cheat," wrote Patrick Smith in The Australian.

"They came to a point where 'the line' could no longer be pushed any further validly and without a serious breach of rules. So senior players schemed to take action that did more than bring the game into disrepute, it has shamed our nation."

Cricketers are among the most scrutinised athletes in the sporting-mad nation and there was dismay at their perceived lack of awareness of how serious their actions were.

Smith has insisted he would not quit, saying he still thought "I'm the right person for the job" after teammate Cameron Bancroft was caught using a yellow object to alter the condition of the ball.

"What is extraordinary, I think, is how it was done and how easily it was agreed to by the team and how, not unapologetic, but sort of oblivious to the consequences Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft seemed to be at the press conference," cricket writer Gideon Haigh told national broadcaster ABC.

"I think over the last year or so, I've sensed a real disconnect between this team and the public, and this administration and the public," he said.

"It's almost as though both organisations, the team and (governing body) Cricket Australia, are in a bit of a bubble - bubbles of their own making."

ABC senior commentator Jim Maxwell, regarded by many as voice of Australian cricket, said he was "more and more offended by the arrogance of some of the players in the way they behave".

"The fact that so much of this has been condoned in recent years, you sensed that there was going to be a blow-up at some point," he told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

"Cricket Australia will more than likely have to make some very big decisions about the leadership in the team.

"If the leadership of Australian cricket can even think of doing something like this then they need to be ostracised and I've a feeling that Steve Smith is probably going to lose the captaincy over this."

Russell Gould in the Herald Sun also echoed calls from former players, fans and commentators for Smith's head to roll.

"When your first option, if things aren't going your way, is to cheat, then you don't have the right stuff to lead a team," he wrote.

"Forget that the whole leadership group was in on it. The buck stops with the captain, what he says goes. The minute he said 'go' for cheating, was the minute he signed off as a real captain."

- AFP


Australia in turmoil over cricketers' ball-tampering shame

Melbourne: Sports-loving Australia is in uproar over the ball-tampering scandal that has ensnared the national cricket team in South Africa with demands for heads to roll.

It's been called the most shameful chapter in Australian cricket since Australian captain Greg Chappell infamously directed his brother Trevor to bowl the final ball of a tense one-day international underarm against New Zealand in 1981.

Former Test paceman Rodney Hogg demanded via social media: "Unfortunately this is blatant cheating and Steve Smith will have to step down as Australian captain."

Cricket writer Robert Craddock weighed in: "Steve Smith's reputation - and that of his team - will never recover from this episode.

"If he is axed as captain - and there is a strong push for it - there can be no excuses."

But instead Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said he will wait for an internal investigation to determine if Smith or any of his teammates will receive additional sanctions.

Smith and coach Darren Lehmann's have been criticised throughout the acrimonious Test series in South Africa for condoning over-exuberant wicket celebrations, aggressive sledging and off-field confrontations.

Under Lehmann's leadership the Australian team's image, at home and abroad, has taken a battering, prompting one opinion writer at cricket web-site Cricinfo to pose the question:

"Why is it that whenever there is an epic-proportion bust-up in international cricket, Australians are almost always involved?"

Lehmann once wrote of his hard-nosed coaching philosophy: "We want to play within the rules but we will play aggressive, in-your-face cricket which was a trademark of (other) eras.

"When Australian teams are performing at their best they are playing right on the edge. That is the Aussie way."

Senior player Nathan Lyon even spoke before the current South Africa Test series of trying to "headbutt the line", now the Australian team appear to have well and truly crossed it.

Abrasive opening batsman David Warner, one of the team's leadership group, also made headlines during the series with a stairwell confrontation with Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock over what he claimed was a derogatory comment about his wife.

Lehmann has a little more than a year of his contract remaining, but along with Smith, in his 34th Test as captain, will be under the gun over this shameful trangression.

Former players voiced their disgust over the seismic news from Cape Town.

Fast bowler Craig McDermott tweeted: "Disappointing and disgraceful... a shocking day for the baggy green", while Michael Clarke, who preceded Smith as Australia captain, said on social media "WHAT THE ........ HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO. Please tell me this is a bad dream."

Clarke, who retired after Australia's losing Ashes series of 2015, said he would consider returning if asked, following the incident which he described as "disgraceful".

"If I was asked by right people, then I would think about my answer," Clarke said on television.

- AFP


Who said what

"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I want to be here (the press conference) because I'm accountable for my actions. I'm not proud of what's happened. I've got to live with the consequences and the damage to my own reputation that comes with."

- Cameron Bancroft

"I'll be honest, I was nervous about it because with hundreds of cameras around that's always the risk."

- Bancroft

"The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch. I'm not proud of what happened. It's not in the spirit of the game."

- Captain Steve Smith

"My integrity, the team's integrity, the leadership group's integrity has come into question and rightfully so. I am embarrassed to be sitting here and talking about this. We're in the middle of such a great series. For something like this to overshadow the great cricket that has been played and not have a single cricket question in here, that's not what I'm about and what the team is about. It's big error in judgment but we'll learn from this and move past it."

- Smith

"We spoke about it and thought it was a possible way to get an advantage."

- Smith

"No I won't. I still think I'm the right person for the job."

- Smith says he will not resign

"The Captain of Australia admits to cheating... put him on a plane out of here Cricket Australia. Your Legacy deserves better."

- Former South Africa spinner Pat Symcox on Twitter

"This was a pre-meditated attempt by the Australian team to cheat."

- Former England captain Nasser Hussain

"I feel a bit for Cameron Bancroft because I don't think he's taken it upon himself to do something and put it in his pocket. Who's told him to do that? It's important to find out that. I think we've got to get to the bottom of why that has happened and what was it. You've got to own up. You've been caught, you've got to own up and say what was it you were hiding. You can't have that in the game."

- Ex-Aussie star Shane Warne

"In my opinion he has tampered with the ball, and used an object to do that. Clearly he's hiding something away from the umpires and when they approach him he pulls something outside of his pocket."

- South Africa's former captain Graeme Smith on TV commentary

"My 2cents worth - This will be Darren Lehmann's greatest test as a coach, cos I will struggle to believe that this was all Bancroft's idea. #SandpaperGate."

- Kevin Pietersen on Twitter. Smith insists that Lehmann was not involved


I remember Gilly walking even when not given out

Remember a time when cricketers relied purely on their skills to win games? And when things got a bit tough, they threw in a sledge or two? I mean, you may not agree with sledging but it's become part and parcel of the game and in some cases, has become entertaining.  You may not like it or agree with it but it's generally accepted.

Match fixing, ball tampering and outright cheating on the other hand, are simply not. And we find ourselves again in the midst of a scandal involving Australian cricketers who have chosen to cheat in order to win.

The whole situation is wrong on every level, it's hard to figure out where to start. You have the captain himself admitting this was pre-planned. This was all done in the open, where every bit of the game is under intense scrutiny. I mean, we have cameras and microphones in the wickets for crying out loud! Attendees in the crowds all have phones with cameras. Did they think this would go unnoticed? It really boggles the mind wondering what these seasoned sportsmen were thinking when they hatched this plan.

I grew up watching so many Aussie cricketing legends dominate this beautiful game and looked up to people like Shane Warne for his tremendous spin bowling which I tried so hard to emulate in my backyard. I also tried to be like Matthew Hayden and hit those big sixes out of the park and I daresay I came close. But apart from learning how to bat and bowl, I learnt a huge life lesson from one Australian cricketer in particular: Adam Gilchrist. Gilly was famous not just for being a stellar batsmen and outstanding wicket keeper. He was famous for walking back to the dressing room despite not given out, when very few others would. He did this despite others in his team chiding him over it and even publicly admitting they wouldn’t have walked. Gilly didn’t do this because he was trying to win brownie points. He did it because it was right. He earned the respect of the world through his actions. Not only was Australian Cricket great because of its skills and prowess, it was great because it had good honest men like Adam Gilchrist inspiring youngsters to do the right thing.

Could you imagine what Sir Donald Bradman would say about all of this if he were alive today? The Don was a legend the cricketing world will likely never see again and he was every bit the sportsman on and off the field.  Seeing Steve Smith and others tarnish The Don and Australian Cricket's great legacy over cheap tactics is throwing mud in their face and sets a terrible example for budding cricketers. These future cricketing stars need to be taught not just how to bat and bowl but how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat; and that cheating has no place in cricket.

- Jaaved Khatree, Audience Editor


What is ball-tampering?

Under Law 42, subsection 3 of the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. These are usually taken to include:

Rubbing the ball on the ground

Scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object

Tampering with the seam of the ball

How does tampering the ball help the bowlers?

Applying smooth substances like vaseline (lip balm) or sweetened saliva to the smooth side of the ball: Smooth side becomes smoother - creates more pressure difference between the smooth and rough sides. This helps the ball swing easier ansd with more venom.

Scuff up the ball using cork, rub the ball on the pitch or use spikes on booth to scuff up the ball: Rough side get rougher - creates more pressure difference between the smooth and rough sides. This helps the balls reverse swing, fooling the batsman on its movement after pitching.

Picking at the threads of the main seam or 'lifting' the quarter seam: Picking at the seam makes the seam more prominent helping in conventional swing. Picking at the quarter swing helps reverse swing as the gap in the cover which will make the moisture go deeper and make that side heavier, thus facilitating reverse swing.

Ball tampering: five memorable cases

Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft and captain Steve Smith admitted to ball-tampering against South Africa during the third Test on Saturday, with the issue of players cheating by changing the condition of the ball rearing its ugly head again.

Here’s a look at five previous famous ball-tampering scandals in Test cricket:

Du Plessis - Australia v South Africa, 2016


Australia's current opponents South Africa have had players found guilty of similar incidents three times in the last five years, including captain Faf du Plessis. The batsman was caught on camera sucking on a sweet during the second Test in Hobart, before using his saliva to shine the ball. Despite no accusations from Australia, the ICC found Du Plessis guilty and fined him 100 percent of his match fee. He avoided a ban and responded with a hundred in the following match.

Du Plessis - Pakistan v South Africa, 2013


Du Plessis was also charged for using a foreign object to change the condition of the ball in a 2013 clash against Pakistan in Dubai. He appeared to rub the ball against the zip on his trouser pocket, and was fined 50 percent of his match fee. South Africa were again caught in hot water a year later when bowler Vernon Philander was found guilty of "scratching the ball with his fingers and thumb".

Pakistan - England v Pakistan, 2006


Maybe the most infamous ball-tampering controversy in recent memory ended with Pakistan forfeiting their Test against England at The Oval 12 years ago. Umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove gave England five penalty runs after ruling that Pakistan had tampered with the ball, leaving the tourists incensed. Inzamam ul-Haq's side refused to take the field after the tea break in protest, and the umpires awarded the match to England, the first forfeiture in Test history. Pakistan were later cleared of ball-tampering by the ICC, with the governing body also controversially changing the result of the match to a draw.

Tendulkar - South Africa v India, 2001


Indian great Sachin Tendulkar was handed a one-match ban by match referee Mike Denness after a game against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Television footage appeared to show Tendulkar scuffing the seam of the ball, but he was actually only removing a piece of grass. There was serious backlash from Indian fans against Denness, with allegations of racism. The ICC eventually cleared Tendulkar of any wrongdoing, but the following third Test had its Test status revoked as the Indian cricket board refused to accept Denness as the match referee.

Atherton - England v South Africa, 1994


Then-England captain Mike Atherton was accused of ball-tampering for taking a substance from his pocket and rubbing it on the ball. He denied the allegations, saying he used some dirt from his pocket to dry his hands. He was not charged with ball-tampering and instead fined #2,000 for failing to disclose the dirt to the match referee. Despite calls for the opening batsman to resign, Atherton stayed on as England skipper full-time until 1998.

- AFP