Sydney - Cricket
Australia chief James Sutherland was rushing to South Africa on Monday
with the sport facing one of the toughest weeks in its history as a
backlash grows over a ball-tampering scandal which is likely to cost
Steve Smith the Test captaincy.
READ: Was Steve Smith lying? Shocking footage suggests he was!
Sponsors expressed "deep concern" as media and fans called for
widespread changes and decisive action following the shock admission
that Smith and senior team members plotted to cheat in South Africa.
Smith, 28, was removed from the captaincy for the remainder of the
third Test against South Africa on Sunday and was then banned for one
match by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
His team's weekend of shame then ended in a crushing 322-run rout.
Set an unlikely 430 to win, Australia were bowled out for a paltry 107
with fast bowler Morne Morkel taking five for 23.
Now Smith is expected to face a harsh sanction from under-pressure
Cricket Australia (CA) for his role in the plot which saw team-mate
Cameron Bancroft tamper with the ball by using yellow sticky tape,
before desperately trying to conceal the evidence down the front of his
A charge of conduct contrary to the spirit of the game includes a possible life ban.
READ: Open letter to Steve Smith from Australian cricket fan and father
CA has sent its head of integrity Iain Roy and head of team
performance Pat Howard to Cape Town to conduct an investigation, with
Sutherland, who is facing mounting pressure to take responsibility for
what Australian media slammed as a "rotten" team culture, now deciding
to join them.
"I am travelling to
Johannesburg this evening and will arrive on Tuesday morning local time to
meet Iain to understand the findings of the investigation to that point,
and to determine recommended outcomes," he said late on Monday.
"We know Australians want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings and next steps, as a matter of urgency."
Smith and all members of the team will remain in South Africa to
assist in the probe to determine exactly what happened, and who knew.
Smith, whose talents with the bat have drawn breathless comparisons
with Aussie great Don Bradman, is not the only man caught in the
David Warner also stood down from his role as vice-captain, while
questions remain over coach Darren Lehmann although Smith said the
former Australian international was not involved in the conspiracy.
Smith initially said the decision was made by the leadership group
within the team, but reports in Australia said Josh Hazlewood and
Mitchell Starc, seen as among those senior figures, were not involved
and angry at being implicated.
"It's been a horrible 24 hours - I want to apologise to our fans and
those back home," said Tim Paine, who was handed the stand-in skipper
role on Sunday.
"We're struggling but the reality and the enormity of what's happened
has probably started to sink in. I don't think we expected this to be
as big as it has been, the fall-out we have seen from back home."
docked 100 percent of his match fee by the ICC, will miss the fourth and
final Test in Johannesburg from Friday due to his ban.
However, Bancroft, the 25-year-old opening batsman, escaped an ICC
suspension. He was instead fined 75 percent of his fee, warned, and hit
by three demerit points.
The admission of cheating brought a firestorm of anger, with
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying he was "shocked and
In scathing commentaries on Monday, Australian media said the team had
heaped "disgrace and humiliation" on the country, while sponsors also
"This is deeply disappointing and certainly not what anyone expects
from our national cricket team," airline Qantas, whose logo is on the
team shirts in South Africa, told AFP in Sydney. "We are in discussions
with Cricket Australia as this issue unfolds."
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who has himself twice been
sanctioned for ball-related offences, gave Smith qualified support for
"Obviously he's trying to take responsibility so there is right in
that but there's also a right in that people are responsible for their
own actions," he said Sunday.
Smith had insisted on Saturday he wouldn't resign the captaincy he
has held for three years since succeeding Michael Clarke, but his
position appears to be increasingly tenuous.
Several former Australian Test stars have said it was impossible for
him to continue, and Clarke insisted Smith must suffer the consequences.
But Clarke added: "I think it's important that we do over time forgive as well."