Australian captain Steve Smith was handed over a one-match suspension along with 100 per cent of his match fee being fined, while opener Camron Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee along with being given three demerit points after the Aussies admitted to a major ball-tampering incident.
The shocking ball tampering incident occurred in the 43rd over of the third Test match between South Africa and Australia where Bancroft was seen putting a “yellow tape” inside his pants on the large screen.
Bancroft was seen holding a foreign object, later identified as a ‘yellow tape’, and rubbing the ball with it, before hiding the object in his trousers. The whole incident, taped on the large screen, led the two-on field umpires, Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong, to charge Bancroft of cheating, in the presence of third umpire Ian Gould and fourth umpire Allahudien Palekar.
The umpires inspected the ball and gave a 5-run penalty to the team as they saw that the condition of the ball had changed. The umpires then took a collective decision of charging Bancroft under Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct.
Australian captain Steve Smith had accepted to the ball tampering issue, claiming that he was also involved in the whole issue.
He said, “We spoke about it at Lunch and I’m not proud of it. It’s not within the spirit of the game, my integrity or the team’s integrity, the leadership group’s integrity has all come to question and rightly so. It’s not on and it certainly won’t happen again I can promise you that.”
As soon as the issue came into light and Smith confessed to his part in the whole incident, the Australian Cricket Board had sacked Smith as the captain of the team and David Warner as the vice-captain of the Australian team for the remainder of Cape Town Test.
Cricket Australia’s statement read, “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.”
After Smith’s removal, Tim Paine has been appointed as the acting captain for the remaining of the Test, the statement added.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) had handed over a one-match suspension and a fine of 100 per cent of match fee to Smith, while Bancroft had been fined 75 per cent of his match fee, along with three demerit points.
David Richardson, Chief Executive of ICC, charged Smith under Article 2.2.1 of the ICC Code of Conduct which reads “all types of conduct of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game prohibited,” while Bancroft was charged for breaching Level 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which reads “changing the condition of the ball in breach of clause 41.3.”
Richardson said “The ICC needs to do more to prevent poor behavior and better police the spirit of the game, defining more clearly what is expected of players and enforcing the regulations in a consistent fashion. In addition and most importantly Member countries need to show more accountability for their teams’ conduct. Winning is important but not at the expense of the spirit of the game which is intrinsic and precious to the sport of cricket. We have to raise the bar across all areas.”
Andy Pycroft of the Emirates Elite Panel of the ICC Match Referees said “To carry a foreign object on to the field of play with the intention of changing the condition of the ball to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent is against not only the Laws, but the Spirit of the game as well. That said, I acknowledge that Cameron has accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to the charge and apologising publicly. As a young player starting out in international cricket, I hope the lessons learned from this episode will strongly influence the way he plays the game during the rest of his career.”
Several other reactions from noted cricketers of the gaming world emerged as soon as the ball tampering issue came into spotlight.
Australian President Malcolm Turnbull asked the board to take a decisive action against Smith and Bancroft, and said, “We all woke up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa. I've spoken with David Peever, the Chairman of Cricket Australia, a few moments ago and I've expressed to him very clearly and unequivocally my disappointment and my concern about the events in South Africa.”
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke said on Sunday, “It's premeditated cheating. It's blatant cheating, it's disgraceful, it's not accepted by anyone, and particularly in Australia, we have the best bowling attack in the world... wouldn't need to cheat to beat anybody. Cameron Bancroft, it's his eighth Test match, I can't believe the leadership group has made a decision to do this. They've gone and got the young kid who's played his eighth Test match to do that.”
On asked if Smith should be denied the captaincy altogether, Clarke chose to remain silent and said, “I don't think it is fair for me to answer that question right now. I'm too emotional, I'm just going on footage that I've seen.”
Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh took to Twitter to express grief and anger over ICC’s decision, saying it is an unfair verdict. Singh tweeted “wow @ICC wow. Great treatment nd FairPlay. No ban for Bancroft with all the evidences whereas 6 of us were banned for excessive appealing in South Africa 2001 without any evidence and Remember Sydney 2008? Not found guilty and banned for 3 matches.different people different rules.”
wow @ICC wow. Great treatment nd FairPlay. No ban for Bancroft with all the evidences whereas 6 of us were banned for excessive appealing in South Africa 2001 without any evidence and Remember Sydney 2008? Not found guilty and banned for 3 matches.different people different rules— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) March 25, 2018
Former batsman Kevin Pieterson called the whole incident a great disgrace to the cricketing nation and Test cricket. He tweeted “Slept on it...Lehmann, Saker & the leaderships groups jobs are untenable! They’ve disgraced a great cricketing nation & Test cricket!”
Slept on it...Lehmann, Saker & the leaderships groups jobs are untenable!
They’ve disgraced a great cricketing nation & Test cricket!— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) March 25, 2018
Former Australian captain Adam Gilchrist raised doubt over Smith’s future as captain and said, “I’m really sad, shocked, stunned - I’m not trying to over-dramatise it but (I'm) really emotional about this. 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.”
He added, “I'm not sure he (Smith) can remain captain. I think it's a pretty tough position to hold after you've admitted to what you've admitted to, (to be able to) carry on with any faith from anyone watching. We'll wait and see whether he's told, or whether he stands aside.”
“I don't remember a designated leadership group a la Australian rules football where they name who the leadership group is – (in my day) it was pretty much coach, captain and vice-captain who were the leadership group. Match bans or fines, they're going to pale into insignificance if (Smith) loses the captaincy and if players get relieved of those leadership positions. It might implicate (David) Warner as vice-captain, I don't know. I don't know all the details about this leadership group,” added Gilchrist.
Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Rajeev Shukla said they will be waiting for the final decision of the Australian Cricket Board and ICC before arriving at a conclusion of whether or not including Smith and Warner in the upcoming IPL in Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively.
Shukla tweeted “On ball tampering issue, Ipl will wait for the decision of ICC and will act accordingly.”
On ball tampering issue, Ipl will wait for the decision of ICC and will act accordingly— Rajeev Shukla (@ShuklaRajiv) March 25, 2018
He also said that the decision will be taken within a day or two and discussions are being held with the concerned authorities.
This is a matter of serious concern for all of us. We are waiting for decision of ICC&Cricket Australia before taking any step: IPL chairman on Steve Smith & David Warner stepping down as Captain&Vice-Captain of Australia respectively for remainder of Test match with South Africa pic.twitter.com/ArCrdS6hwu— ANI (@ANI) March 25, 2018
Matches will start on 7th April & we will take decision before that, in coming 1-2 days. Announcing a decision today won't be right. We are holding discussions with those concerned: IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla on Steve Smith & David Warner pic.twitter.com/w60It5Y4p8— ANI (@ANI) March 25, 2018
The franchise of Rajasthan Royals had released an official statement in which Ranjit Barthakur, Executive Chairman of the team, wrote, “We have been made aware of the controversy of ball tampering in the ongoing Australia – South Africa series and await further instructions from BCCI, before we make any announcement. We at Rajasthan Royals will not tolerate any actions that are unfair by definition and bring disrepute to the game of cricket. Our Zero tolerance policy applies to everyone in our team. Please bear with us.”