Steven Smith and David Warner, formerly captain and vice-captain of Australia, have been banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia for their roles in the pre-meditated plan to tamper with the ball on the third day of the Cape Town Test against South Africa. Cameron Bancroft, the player actually caught tampering with the ball, has been banned for nine months.
Smith and Warner have also been banned from captaining Australia for two years. An official announcement of their penalties is expected to be announced soon, as the fallout of the scandal, which was met with outrage in Australia, rumbles on.
All players will have the right to challenge the verdicts and also the duration of their penalties via a CA code of behaviour hearing with an independent commissioner, who can also choose whether the hearing is public or private. Players at the hearing are permitted to call as many witnesses as they like and also to have legal representation.
Smith is due to depart for Australia today and will speak publicly upon his arrival home in Sydney. All three players have been replaced in the squad ahead of the fourth Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.
The ball-tampering incident took place during the afternoon session on day three at Newlands and was picked up on by TV cameras. A small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft‘s hands after he had worked on the ball, which he later revealed was adhesive tape with soil particles on it. He was also captured taking the tape from his pocket and placing it down his trousers.
The footage showed Bancroft rubbing the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers. He put the object down his pants after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to Australia coach Darren Lehmann over a walkie talkie. Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground.
The on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball or penalise the Australians five runs – the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball. 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.
Smith and Bancroft owned up to the offence at the press conference after play on the third day, and while Warner was not initially at the forefront of the scandal, a view is emerging that he had hatched the idea to tamper the ball and delegated it to his opening partner Bancroft, with Smith’s approval. A preliminary Cricket Australia investigation said that no other players or staff had knowledge of the plan. Smith and Warner were stood down as Australia’s captain and vice-captain during the Newlands Test, and both players took the field on the fourth day under wicketkeeper Tim Paine’s leadership.
Warner, Smith and Bancroft were sent home from South Africa by CA, with the board CEO James Sutherland saying the forthcoming sanctions against them were likely to be “significant”. The ICC had already suspended Smith – who was fined 100% of his match fee and given four demerit points – from the fourth Test against South Africa, while Bancroft was given three demerit points and fined 75% of his match fee. There was no ICC sanction against Warner.
Smith and Warner had already stepped down from their positions as captains of the IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.