Aus­tralia in cri­sis af­ter own­ing up to cheat­ing

Cap­tain Smith in fight for job af­ter ball-tam­per­ing Opener Ban­croft caught on cam­era try­ing to scuff ball

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Nick Hoult CRICKET NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Steve Smith is fight­ing to re­main as Aus­tralia cap­tain af­ter con­fess­ing that the team man­age­ment had de­cided to cheat by tam­per­ing with the ball in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Aus­tralian cricket be­came em­broiled in its big­gest cri­sis for years when Cameron Ban­croft was caught by TV cam­eras try­ing to scuff the ball with tape. He hid the tape down his trousers when ques­tioned by the um­pires, pro­duc­ing a black cloth from his pocket in an at­tempted ex­pla­na­tion of what he had used to wipe the ball.

But in an ex­tra­or­di­nary end-of-play press con­fer­ence, Ban­croft ad­mit­ted ball-tam­per­ing and Smith re­vealed it had been the idea of the team man­age­ment dur­ing the lunch break.

“The lead­er­ship group knew about it. We spoke about it [ball-tam­per­ing] at lunch. I am not proud of what has hap­pened. It is not in the spirit of the game, not in line with my in­tegrity, the team’s in­tegrity,” Smith said. “The lead­er­ship group’s in­tegrity has come into ques­tion and rightly so. It won’t hap­pen again un­der my lead­er­ship.

“We saw this game as such an im­por­tant game. We have seen the ball re­vers­ing quite a lot through­out this se­ries and our ball just did not look like it was go­ing to go. That is a mis­take on our be­half again. It is deeply re­gret­table.

“I still think I’m the right per­son for the job. I need to take con­trol of the ship. This is cer­tainly some­thing I’m not proud of. I’m em­bar­rassed to be sit­ting here talk­ing about this.”

Smith and Aus­tralia’s head coach, Dar­ren Lehmann, will be un­der pres­sure to step down or face be­ing sacked. Last night BBC cricket cor­re­spon­dent Jonathan Agnew called Smith’s po­si­tion as cap­tain “un­ten­able” while, writ­ing in The Sun­day Tele­graph, for­mer Eng­land cap­tain Michael Vaughan said it is “a sad sate of af­fairs” if Smith is al­lowed to stay on. Shane Warne tweeted that he was “very dis­ap­pointed with the pic­tures”.

The match ref­eree, Andy Py­croft, has charged Ban­croft with try­ing to al­ter the con­di­tions of the ball, but must de­cide whether to take ac­tion against Smith.

Ball-tam­per­ing is quite a mi­nor of­fence in the play­ing reg­u­la­tions, car­ry­ing a max­i­mum one-Test ban, but it is the rep­u­ta­tional dam­age to Smith and Aus­tralia that could have wider ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

Ban­croft, who is play­ing in his eighth Test, said: “We had a dis­cus­sion dur­ing the break and I took an op­por­tu­nity to use some tape, get some gran­ules from the rough patches on the wicket and try to change the ball con­di­tion.

“It did not work. The um­pires did not change the ball, but once I was sighted on the screens I pan­icked and that re­sulted in me shov­ing it down my long trousers.

“I will deal with the dam­age that comes to my rep­u­ta­tion as a con­se­quence. I don’t think I was co­erced. I was ner­vous about it be­cause there are hun­dreds of cam­eras around.

“Un­for­tu­nately I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I am ac­count­able for my ac­tions as well. I’m not proud of what has hap­pened.”

In 1994, Eng­land cap­tain Mike Ather­ton was fined £2,000 for ball­tam­per­ing against South Africa while in 2006 Eng­land were awarded five penalty runs at the Oval af­ter Pak­istan were ruled to have doc­tored the ball.

Caught out: Aus­tralia’s Cameron Ban­croft is con­fronted by the um­pires over ball-tam­per­ing in the third Test against South Africa

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