Proteas

Smith ban 'like losing two players'

2018-03-26 11:18
Cameron Bancroft (left) and Steve Smith (Gallo).

Cape Town - Australia could go into the fourth Test in Johannesburg with a seriously depleted side if Cricket Australia's internal investigation into ball-tampering finds numerous players at fault. 

The third Test at Newlands will go down as one of the darkest moments in Australian cricket history after captain Steve Smith admitted that he and a number of senior players had manufactured a plan to tamper with the ball.

Cameron Bancroft, the man tasked with executing the plan, was caught red-handed on the big screen 20 minutes before tea on Saturday and after the day's play he joined his skipper in coming clean in one of the most shocking confessions cricket has ever seen. 

As a result, Smith has been banned by the ICC for the Wanderers Test while the punishment internally from Cricket Australia could be even worse. 

Smith was stood down as captain at Newlands after the confession, while David Warner was also stripped of the vice-captaincy. 

That suggests that Warner was also involved in the incident, and if he is punished internally then Australia could go into the crucial final Test without their two best batsman. 

If Bancroft is also sent home, Australia will go in with three of their top four missing. 

The only certainty right now, though, is that Smith is out. 

That, in itself, is a huge boost to South Africa's chances.

"That is very comforting," Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said at the thought of not having to bowl to Smith.

"He is a very good batsman and somehow we’ve manged to keep him quiet.

"It’s almost like losing two players in one because he’s such a strong batter. I do believe that his leadership is also good for the team, so he will be a big loss for them."

2-1 up in the series with one Test to play, Du Plessis is fully aware of the history-making opportunity that awaits his side. 

South Africa, since re-admission, have never beaten Australia on home soil. 

"It was one of the things we spoke about it," Du Plessis acknowledged.

"We know it’s our last crack at it. We’re probably not going to play against Australia again, even away, so this is the Test series that we as South Africans enjoy the most.

"We’ve worked really hard to get here and I’m looking forward to the last one. There is still a lot to do but if we manage to do that it will be great."

The fourth Test starts on Friday.

 

Read more on:    proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  steve smith  |  cape town  |  cricket
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