Cricket Australia has refused to take any immediate action against captain Steve Smith over the ball-tampering scandal, saying it will send an investigative team to South Africa to look into all aspects before deciding what action to take. Calling it a “very sad day for Australian cricket,” Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Sunday he was “extremely disappointed and shocked” by the news from the third test in Cape Town on Saturday, which came overnight Sunday in Australia.
“Australian cricket fans want to be proud of their cricket team,” Sutherland said. “I feel this morning they have every reason to wake up and not be proud of the team.” “One of the unique things about the game of cricket, is it is to be played not only within the laws of the game, but in the spirit of the game. And, activities on the field yesterday, are neither within the laws of the game or the spirit of the game.”
Australia cricketers confessed to ball tampering in a desperate plot hatched by Smith and senior players as they saw the third test against South Africa slipping away. Batsman Cameron Bancroft was tasked with carrying out the tampering by using yellow adhesive tape to pick up “granules” beside the pitch and rub it on the ball to rough it up in an attempt to get it to reverse swing on day three at Newlands.
But Bancroft was caught doing it on the field by television cameras, and then attempted to hide the evidence by shoving the tape down his trousers before he was questioned by umpires.
“The leadership group knew about it,” Smith said, admitting he and senior players who he would not name planned the cheating during the lunch break. “We spoke about it at lunch and I’m not proud of what’s happened. It’s not within the spirit of the game.”
Sutherland said Cricket Australia is sending their head of integrity, Iain Roy, to South Africa to investigate the scandal.
He also refused to make comment on Steve Smith’s long-term position as captain on Sunday but said Roy and high performance manager Pat Howard would travel to Cape Town to investigate the matter.
“We are in the middle of the game right now and that game needs to conclude. But over the course of the next couple of days we will get to the bottom of this and we will take appropriate action,” Sutherland said.
Australia trails South Africa by 294 runs. The four-test series is level 1-1.