Australia captain Steve Smith has been suspended from the fourth and final Test against South Africa and was fined 100% of his match fee by the International Cricket Council after admitting to ball-tampering charges during the third Test.
Australian opener Cameron Bancroft, who also admitted to trying to change the condition of the ball by rubbing it with a piece of sticky tape, was also fined 75% of his match fee and handed three demerit points. However, the 25-year-old was allowed to play the next match.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson laid the charge against Smith under to Article 2.2.1 of the governing body’s Code of Conduct, which prohibits to “all types of conduct of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game”. An ICC release said that Smith has accepted the charge, which includes a sanction of two suspension points – which equates to a ban for the next Test match – and four demerit points.
“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,” Richardson was quoted as saying. “As captain, Steve Smith must take full responsibility for the actions of his players and it is appropriate that he be suspended.”
Richardson added, “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 ordinary off-field behaviour.”
Richardson also said that the ICC “needs to do more to prevent poor behaviour” and “better police the spirit of the game”. The governing body of the sport needs to define “more clearly what is expected of players” and enforce the regulations “in a consistent fashion”, he said.
The ICC CEO also called for Member countries to “show more accountability” for their teams’ conduct. “Winning is important but not at the expense of the spirit of the game which is intrinsic and precious to the sport of cricket. We have to raise the bar across all areas,” he added.
Bancroft was caught by television cameras rubbing the ball with a foreign object that looked like sandpaper, before hiding it inside his trousers when the umpires questioned him about it. Bancroft and Smith, later, admitted to trying to tamper the condition of the ball. Smith said that the “leadership group” of the Australian team was aware of the decision.
Smith and his vice-captain, David Warner, then stepped down from their posts for the remainder of the third Test. However, Smith said in a press conference on Saturday that he would not consider completely stepping down from captaincy.