CAPE TOWN – Australian captain Steve Smith has stood down as captain of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals amid the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed the men from Down Under.
In a statement on Monday, Rajasthan announced that Ajinkya Rahane will replace Smith as skipper due to the latter’s role in the ball-tampering incident involving Cameron Bancroft during the third Test against the Proteas at Newlands, which the Royals termed “clearly wrong”.
Smith has been part of the Royals since 2014, although the team have not been part of the IPL for the past two years due to betting issues – which saw Smith join Rising Pune Supergiant. But he was named as Rajasthan skipper after the IPL auction in February ahead of the franchise’s comeback to the competition this year.
“Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game,” said co-owner of the Royals, Manoj Badale.
“We agree with Steve’s decision to step down as captain, and we are fortunate to have such a capable successor with Ajinkya Rahane.
“It is important that all cricket fans retain a balanced perspective on the situation. What happened in South Africa was clearly wrong, especially given that it appears to have been pre-meditated.
“That said, this will be a difficult time for Steve as well, given how much he cares about the game.”
The 28-year-old Smith, though, is still awaiting the outcome of an investigation by Cricket Australia into the incident that saw Bancroft using a piece of yellow tape to gather dirt from the pitch to rough up the ball during day three at Newlands.
Smith received a one-match suspension from the ICC, as well as four demerit points and a 100% fine of his match fee, while Bancroft got three demerit points and a 75% fine.
But Cricket Australia has come out strongly in dealing with the matter, with chief executive James Sutherland announcing earlier on Monday that he will be joining the organisation’s delegation in South Africa on Tuesday to deal with the matter.
A decision on Smith’s future is expected on Tuesday night, ahead of the final Test that starts at the Wanderers on Friday.