CAPE TOWN – In a dramatic development on Sunday morning, Steve Smith and David Warner have been stood down as captain and vice-captain by Cricket Australia for the remainder of the Newlands Test for their role in the Cameron Bancroft ball-tampering incident.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland made the announcement via a media statement before the start of day four of the third Test against South Africa.
Wicket-keeper Tim Paine will lead the team for the rest of the match.
Sutherland said: “Following discussions with Steve Smith and David Warner, they have agreed to stand down as captain and vice-captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match.
“This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim, we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.
“As I said earlier today, Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion, these standards have not been met.”
After Bancroft was caught by TV cameras disposing of a piece of “yellow tape” that he had used to try to damage the ball to aid reverse swing – by collecting dirt from the ground – he was approached by umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth.
Bancroft proceeded to show the umpires a sunglasses pouch, but after the day’s play, he and captain Smith admitted trying to “change the condition of the ball”.
Smith stated that the team’s “leadership group” had discussed the ploy during lunch, with Bancroft listening in, although he insisted that coach Darren Lehmann was not involved.
Smith, though, was defiant in saying that he would not resign as captain. But now it seems as if that decision has been taken for him.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever, who is travelling as part of a delegation to South Africa to investigate the matter further, added about Paine: “The Board of Cricket Australia has endorsed Tim Paine to step in as acting captain for the remainder of this Test. Both Steve and David will take to the field today under Tim’s captaincy.
“The Board fully supports the process for an immediate investigation into what occurred in Cape Town.
“We regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness and urgency. We will ensure we have all information available to make the right decisions for Australian Cricket.”
Bancroft confirmed on Saturday evening that he had been charged by the ICC for changing the condition of the ball, with a hearing likely to take place after the match.