Steve Smith stands down as Australian Test captain after ball-tampering scandal

Australia’s Steve Smith, who has stood down as Test captain. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Steve Smith has been stood down as Test captain along with vice-captain David Warner after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa which shocked Australia and drew outrage from the public and cricketing greats.

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said the two had agreed to step out of their leadership roles, although they will play the remainder of the third Test in Cape Town.

Tim Paine will take over captaincy duties pending further investigations about who was involved or aware of the plan, discussed between the leadership group, to tamper with the ball in an effort to gain an advantage over the South African batting.

Cameron Bancroft was caught by cameras placing a yellow object into his pants which he later explained was tape that was being used to gather material around the wicket and rough up the ball to get it to swing.

Bancroft and Smith later faced the media admitting the plot which Smith said had been hatched between senior players during the lunch break.

Sutherland said: “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.

“All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority,” concluded Mr Sutherland.

The Australian Sports Commission earlier called for Steve Smith to be stood down as Test cricket captain, and and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling for “decisive action” from administrators.

“The whole nation who holds those that wear the baggy green up on a pedestal — about as high as you can get in Australia, certainly higher than any politician — this is a shocking disappointment,” Turnbull said. “It’s wrong. And I look forward to Cricket Australia taking decisive action soon.”

The ASC, which oversees the Australian Institute of Sport and is the federal government’s primary national sports administration and advisory agency, issued a statement this afternoon signed by chairman John Wylie, CEO Kate Palmer and the board, which includes Olympic gold medallists Alisa Camplin-Warner and Jennifer Morris.

It said:

The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport. The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country.

The Australian cricket team are iconic representatives of our country. The example they set matters a great deal to Australia and to the thousands of young Australians playing or enjoying the sport of cricket and who look up to the national team as role models.

Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball.

This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.

Former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said the incident had made Australia a “laughing stock of world sport”.

“I’m really sad, shocked, stunned – I’m not trying to over-dramatise it but (I’m) really emotional about this,” Gilchrist said on Network Ten.

“Australian cricket now and the integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport.

“This clearly is against the laws of the game and we’ve just had our national captain and our national team admit that they sat down, premeditated and pre-planned a way to cheat.”