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Anger mounts over scandal in Australia

Cricket captain Smith fined, banned amid ball-tampering revelations

International cricket bosses suspended Australia captain Steve Smith for one match and docked his entire match fee for the current Test after he admitted responsibility for the ball-tampering scandal in the ongoing game against South Africa.

Opener Cameron Bancroft, 25, was hit by three demerit points, fined 75 per cent of his match fee and warned for his part in attempting to "change the condition of the ball in order to gain an unfair advantage" on Saturday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said in a statement yesterday.

"The decision made by the leadership group of the Australian team to act in this way is clearly contrary to the spirit of the game, risks causing significant damage to the integrity of the match, the players and the sport itself and is therefore 'serious' in nature," said ICC chief executive David Richardson.

"As captain, Steve Smith must take full responsibility for the actions of his players and it is appropriate that he be suspended."

The ICC statement said Smith had "accepted the charge" and a "sanction of two suspension points which equates to a ban for the next Test match and which will see four demerit points added to his record".

Smith, 28, had admitted to planning the ball tampering during lunch on the third day of the fourth Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.

Bancroft was caught on television, first rubbing a piece of yellow sticky tape on the ball and then trying to hide the evidence down his trousers. The plan was to attach a sticky substance to the ball that would pick up abrasive dirt from the pitch.

Australia were bowling at the time and the move was likely aimed at getting a more unpredictable bounce when the ball was bowled at the South Africa batsmen.

Meanwhile, Smith and David Warner had stepped down as captain and vice-captain for the rest of the Test, as Cricket Australia (CA) issued an apology to fans.

"Following discussions with Smith and Warner, they have agreed to stand down as captain and vice-captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match," CA chief James Sutherland said in a statement.

In an e-mail to CA subscribers, Sutherland added: "We are sorry. We are sorry that you had to wake up this morning to news from South Africa that our Australian men's cricket team and our captain admitted to conduct that is outside both the laws of our game and the spirit of cricket."

The scandal has resulted in widespread condemnation at home, including from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell wrote in a column for Sydney's Daily Telegraph late yesterday that Smith "shouldn't be the sole scapegoat for a dark day in Australian cricket".

He asked: "Why did the leadership group believe, with such a strong bowling attack, they needed to cheat? Was it entitlement?

"Why did the captain allow a young player to take the fall for such a serious crime? And where does CA's responsibility lie as the people who oversee these appointments?" - AFP

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