Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been sent home for their part in the ball-tampering scandal, says Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland.
In a press conference on Tuesday night, Sutherland emphasised that coach Darren Lehmann was not involved and will continue in his role for the fourth Test, starting in Johannesburg on Friday.
Preliminary findings by the head of integrity, Iain Roy, showed that just three players were involved, said Sutherland.
Three players – Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns – are being flown in as replacements and Tim Paine will continue as captain.
Sutherland said that their investigation was not complete, and that punishments had not yet been decided, but that ‘very significant’ sanctions were being contemplated to reflect the damage done to Australian cricket and the game in general. An announcement will be made on Wednesday.
Sutherland also admitted that Cricket Australia would review the conduct of their team, using experts to help. ‘Winning is important, but not at the expense of the spirit of the game,’ he said.
‘It’s a reminder of how important the game of cricket is to the Australian cricket fans, and it’s also a reminder to us how important it is to rebuild that confidence and trust and pride in the Australian cricket team going forward.’
Sutherland started by apologising to all Australian fans, ‘especially the kids who love the game and idolise the players’, as well Cricket South Africa for the fact that this ‘overshadowed the whole series’.
‘The focus now will be to re-engage with the fans. I understand the anger and disappointment of all the fans,’ he said.
Smith had already been banned from the fourth Test in Johannesburg by the ICC, after he was given two suspension points for being found guilty under a rule which prohibits ‘all types of conduct of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game’.
Bancroft, the junior player tasked with carrying out the ball-tampering, was fined 75% of his match fee and handed three demerit points.
Smith, who was immediately dropped as captain for the remainder of the third Test, was also fined his entire match fee following his admission that he agreed to a plan to change the condition of the ball during the third day’s play.
Sutherland said he endorsed the view of ICC chief executive David Richardson, who said: ‘The game needs to have a hard look at itself. In recent weeks we have seen incidents of ugly sledging, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off, ball tampering and some extraordinary off-field behaviour.
‘The ICC needs to do more to prevent poor behaviour 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.’
Photo: Julian Smith/EPA/BackpagePix