Cricket Australia launches tampering probe

Canberra [Australia], Mar. 25 (ANI): As Australian skipper Steve Smith and batsman Cameron Bancroft admitted to charges of ball-tampering during the third day of the third Test match at Newlands against South Africa in Cape Town, Cricket Australia on Sunday launched a formal investigation into the matter.

“We are extremely disappointed and shocked at what we woke up to this morning, and we are dealing with this issue with the utmost urgency and seriousness. We certainly don’t have all of the evidence at hand and we need someone to go over there and talk to the relevant people involved to understand what happened and the detail, and then we’ll make appropriate decisions as to next step,” quoted Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland as saying.

In times that call for an immediate decisions on the future of Steve Smith and other members of the team’s ‘leadership group’ that have been implicated in the acknowledged breach, Sutherland stressed the need for a due process to be followed.

“We’re in the middle of a game, and that game needs to conclude. I understand that’s not necessarily the fullness of response that everyone is looking for right now, but there’s an element of process that needs to be undertaken here,” he said.

Further, Sutherland also confirmed that he has not spoken to Smith owing to the time differences with South Africa.

Earlier on Saturday, when Smith was asked if he was contemplating resigning as the skipper, he had said that he believes he is still the right person for the job.

“Today was a big mistake on my behalf and on the leadership group’s behalf as well. But I take responsibility as the captain. I need to take control of the ship, but this is certainly something I’m not proud of and something that I hope I can learn from and come back strong from,” he had said.

Sutherland also confirmed that as of now Smith is still the captain.

“Steve Smith is still captain of the Australian Cricket Team,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, the chief executive expressed disappointment, calling it a “very sad day for Australian cricket”.

“Australian cricket fans want to be proud of their cricket team, and I think this morning they have every reason to wake up and not be proud of the team. It’s a very sad day for Australian cricket,” Sutherland concluded.

Earlier on Saturday, both Smith and Bancroft admitted to charges of ball tampering after the end of the day’s play.

According to the footage, a small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, and he was also captured taking it from his pocket and seeming to place it down his trousers.

It showed Bancroft seeming to rub the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers, as is permitted under International Cricket Council (ICC) playing conditions, reported.

He appeared to put the object down his pants apparently after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann over the walkie-talkie.

When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers. (ANI)