Steve Smith’s cricket future is in doubt after standing down from the captaincy, and receiving a one-match suspension and a significant fine, just hours before Australia’s humbling loss in the third Test against South Africa.
Smith was banned for one Test and fined 100 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council over the ball-tampering scandal that has rocked world sport.
The prolific batsman confessed Sunday morning that he authorised premeditated cheating on day three of the third Test, looking to use sticky tape in an illegal attempt to change the condition of the ball.
Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera using the tape while working on the ball in the post-lunch session then attempted to hide it from umpires by concealing in his pants.
Smith will miss the fourth Test against South Africa, while Bancroft is free to play the series finale, having been docked 75 per cent of his match fee.
Further sanctions are expected to come from Cricket Australia (CA), which is under pressure to permanently strip Smith of the captaincy.
Cricket Australia was forced to hose down reports that Smith had left South Africa and would arrive home Monday afternoon.
“Cricket Australia can confirm that all members of the touring Test squad currently remain in South Africa,” a statement read.
“Multiple media reports that suggest players have departed South Africa for home ports are inaccurate.
“At this stage, players will remain in South Africa to assist CA with inquiries.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s stand-in captain Tim Paine revealed that Smith and Bancroft were going through emotional turmoil following a “strange, horrible 24 hours” after admitting to their role in the scandal.
“They’re not great. It’s been a horrible 24 hours, they’re struggling but probably the reality and the enormity of what’s happened is starting to sink in,” Paine told media.
Paine led Australia on the fourth day of the match at Cape Town after Smith and deputy David Warner both stood down from team leadership following a discussion with CA chief executive James Sutherland prior to the start of play Sunday local time.
Warner, Bancroft and Smith were all booed to and from the pitch.
— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) March 25, 2018
Speaking before the start of play on day four, Australian bowling great Shane Warne said there was doubt that Smith would ever regain the captaincy.
“I know its an instant reaction now with emotion and anger, and things like that, but you’d have to say there’s a real jeopardy about whether he [Smith] will be captain again,” Warne said.
Coach Darren Lehmann is also facing pressure to lose his job, whether or not he knew of the planned ball tampering.
Sutherland earlier told reporters in Australia he was “extremely disappointed and shocked” by the ball tampering scandal.
“We have a responsibility to take this further … over the next couple of days, [we will] get a deep understanding of what happened and why,” he said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in on the scandal, saying he had spoken with CA chairman David Peever and “expressed to him very clearly and unequivocally my disappointment and my concern about the events in South Africa”.
“Our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“How can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief.”
South Africa later added indignity to ignominy, claiming 10 wickets for just 50 runs in 99 minutes of madness to take a 322-run victory over a clearly distracted Australian side.
“It’s been a horrible 24 hours to be perfectly honest,” Paine said after the loss.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to our fans and all Australians back home.”
Paine is expected to continue to lead the team in the fourth and final match starting Friday in Johannesburg.
South Africa snatched a 2-1 lead in the four-Test series, putting themselves in the box seat for their first Test series win over Australia at home since the fall of apartheid.
Warner and Bancroft showed great composure in helping their side reach 0-57.
An unnecessary run out of Bancroft, completed with a direct hit from Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, ignited unmitigated chaos as Australia slumped to be all out for 107.
Bancroft (26), Warner (32) and Mitch Marsh (16) were the only Australian batsmen to reach double figures. Paine finished nine not out and Smith scored seven.
Morne Morkel, who finished with career-best match figures of 9-110, and Keshav Maharaj were both on hat-tricks in Cape Town.
The margin was one run short of equalling Australia’s biggest Test loss to South Africa, in terms of runs.