Smith, Warner banned from cricket for a year -- and it turns out they used sandpaper on the ball

Steve Smith and David Warner in the UK for The Ashes in 2015. Photo: Getty Images / File

  • Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Dave Warner have been banned from elite cricket for a year over the ball-tampering scandal in the South Africa.
  • Cameron Bancroft, the player caught with the now-infamous yellow “tape” being used to rough up the ball during last weekend’s Test match, has taken a nine-month ban.
  • But it has now emerged they were using sandpaper — not tape, as Bancroft claimed during his press conference last weekend admitting to the plot.

Australian cricket captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Dave Warner have both been banned from playing elite cricket for a year over the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, according to multiple media reports.

Cricket Australia officials outlined the decisions to the players this morning in Johannesburg and issued a statement a short time ago.

Cameron Bancroft, the player caught trying to rough up the ball on the field during the Third Test against South Africa in Cape Town last weekend, has been banned for nine months.

They will not be eligible for any elite cricket, although they can play for grade teams.

The three are flying home to Australia today. Smith is being replaced by Tim Paine as captain.

A preliminary investigation by Cricket Australia into the incident, which has had the sport reeling this week, concluded that Smith, Warner, and Bancroft were the only players involved in the plot to gain an advantage by illegally damaging the ball on the field in the second innings against South Africa last weekend.

In a devastating further revelation, the Cricket Australia report has confirmed Bancroft was using sandpaper on the ball, rather than the tape as Bancroft claimed in a press conference last Sunday.

It is unclear what impact the decision has on their contracts with Cricket Australia. Smith’s retainer, captaincy bonus and match fees are worth a reported $1.5 million. The players can also earn multiple millions playing for IPL teams, but again the status of these is unclear at the moment.

Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop said today the incident had tarnished Australia’s international reputation, with officials from other countries having raised the matter in discussions.

“Our international teams, those who represent Australia, actually represent the country, our values. We are seen, often, through the eyes of our cricket team,” Bishop told Sky News. “So it has done damage internationally, and the appropriate steps of sending the three culprits home is something we welcome.”

The preliminary investigation by Cricket Australia found Warner, Bancroft, and Smith were responsible for the plot. Coach Darren Lehmann was exonerated.

James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, announced the finding of the initial probe overnight in Johannesburg and explained that “significant sanctions” were being considered as a result of the findings.

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