CAPE TOWN – Steve Smith will not resign from the Australian captaincy despite admitting his team deliberately tried to tamper with the ball in an orchestrated attempt to gain an advantage on an eventful third day of the third Test against South Africa at Newlands on Saturday.
Smith’s admission came after Australian opener Cameron Bancroft was charged by the International Cricket Council for “trying to change the ball condition”.
Television footage on the big screen at the ground showed Bancroft trying to hide a yellow piece of tape used to collect granules of sand from the pitch inside his pants.
“The leadership group knew about it, we spoke about it at lunch,” Smith told a packed media room at Newlands on Saturday evening.
“I am not proud of what has happened. It’s not in the spirit of the game, my integrity and the integrity of the team has been damaged, and rightfully so.
“It’s not on and it won’t happen again, I can promise you.”
Smith added: “I won’t consider stepping down (from the captaincy). I still think I am the right person for the job.
“Today was a big mistake on my part and on the leadership group as well. I have to take control of the ship. This is something I am not proud of.
“It’s something I hope I can learn from and come back from. I am embarrassed. It is a big error in judgement.”
Australia team post play press conference featuring Steve Smith & Cameron Bancroft. https://t.co/dh5UYfPz31
After seeing it on the big screen too, on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth called Bancroft over, only for the Australian to pull out a black piece of material, customarily used to clean sunglasses.
The umpires did not change the ball or penalise the Australians with five runs, which is the mandatory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball.
“We had a discussion during the break – I saw an opportunity to use some tape to collect some granules from the rough patches on the wicket, and try to change the ball condition. It didn’t work,” Bancroft admitted.
“I guess once I was cited on the screens that I’d done that, I panicked quite a lot, and that obviously resulted in me shoving it down my trousers.”
The ongoing series has been engulfed in controversy, with the actual play almost taking a back seat.
South Africa, though, remain in a dominant position, with an overall lead of 294 runs with six wickets remaining heading into the fourth day.