Starting from day three of the third Test at Newlands, the lives of three Australian cricketers would never be the same. A day Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner and majority of cricket fans are unlikely to forget anytime soon.

The Australian ball-tampering scandal in South Africa has rocked cricket to its core and reportedly left the team feuding and fractured, amid sympathy for Smith especially and scepticism that the full story has not been told.

Here’s an outline of what we know so far about the chain of events and subsequent fallout from the incident during the third Test at Cape Town:

Caught on camera

Questions were initially raised when images on the big screen at the Newlands ground showed Cameron Bancroft putting an unidentified object in his pocket, with the Australian batsman misleadingly revealing a black sunglasses cloth to the umpires when they called him over. Former South Africa pacer Fanie de Villiers, working as a television commentator at Newlands, said he had tipped off the camera crew that caught Bancroft in the act.

“We actually said to our cameramen: ‘Go out. Have a look, boys. They are using something.’ It’s impossible for the ball to get altered like that on a cricket wicket where we knew there is a grass covering on,” De Villiers told Australian radio station RSN927. “I said earlier that if they could get reverse swing in the 26th, 27th, 28th over, then they are doing something different from what everyone else does.”

“Sticky tape”

A sheepish Bancroft, appearing in just his eighth Test, confessed after Saturday’s play to using “some yellow tape and granules from the rough patches of the wicket” to try and doctor the ball. But that explanation was contradicted by a statement from Cricket Australia on Wednesday, who said the player had attempted to “artificially alter the condition of the ball using sandpaper”. The aim would have been to generate more swing for Australia’s bowlers.

Alongside Bancroft, Smith admitted that the ‘leadership group’ was aware of the ploy and they were driven to tamper with the ball out of desperation to make something happen.

And from then on, it was all downhill for Smith and Co.

Massive uproar

Australia were, in the words of Michael Clarke, just waking up to a bad dream. It started with the Prime Minister of Australia calling for strong action against the team and the Cricket Australia joining in. As part of the swift action promised, it was announced before play on the fourth day at Newlands that Smith and Warner would be stood down as captain and vice captain for the rest of the Test match and Tim Paine would be the captain.

The incident sparked condemnation from the public, where the role of national cricket captain is widely seen as the second most important job in the country behind prime minister. Australia’s premier Malcolm Turnbull said it had been “a shocking affront to Australia” and management must act “decisively and emphatically”. National media said the team had heaped “disgrace and humilation” on the country, while sponsors have also voiced “deep concern” over reputational damage with electronics giant LG dropping Warner as brand ambassador, amid fears other could follow suit

It would turn out be another forgettable day for Australia on the field as the team folded in one session to succumb to a 322-run defeat, amid boos from the Cape Town crowd.

ICC steps in... kind of

In a decision that seemed laughable at the time, ICC sanctioned a one-match ban on Smith while Bancroft received a fine of 75% on match fees.

And around the same time, the Australian media and public were stunned beyond belief by an act that they saw as ‘un-Australian’ - an outrage that could only be seen as how big a part cricket played in their daily lives.

One-year bans

In a press conference on Tuesday, CA chief James Sutherland said coach Darren Lehmann had no role to play in the attempt to tamper with the ball and it was narrowed down to Smith, Warner and Bancroft; significant sanctions were promised.

And then they arrived.

Now former-skipper Smith, the world’s top ranked Test batsman, and vice-captain Warner were suspended from “all international and domestic cricket” for a year. Management said Smith knew of the potential plot and failed to stop it, while Warner was charged with crafting the plan and instructing Bancroft to carry it out. Bancroft was banned for nine months, with Smith and Warner also barred from this year’s Indian Premier League, losing contracts worth nearly $2 million each. A Cricket Australia spokesman told AFP the players could still play at club level in Australia or in other countries, but could not represent their Australian states.

Here are the key findings from the CA’s investigations, which heavily implicated Warner.

And it was made public that it was not a yellow sticky tape but sandpaper after all...

IPL bans

What started as Smith and Warner stepping down as captains stepping down from their captaincy positions for Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, soon made way for complete ban from this year’s IPL.

The decision was announced almost immediately after CA’s sanctions were made public.

Coach ‘not involved’

While the three players were punished for their role in the plot, coach Darren Lehmann was absolved of any wrongdoing. Television footage had showed Lehmann relaying a message down to 12th man Peter Handscomb via walkie talkie after cameras caught Bancroft attempting to scuff up the ball, but CA chief James Sutherland said his reaction proved he was not in on the plan. “I want to clarify that specific point. He sent a message to say ‘what the hell is going on’, except he didn’t use the word ‘hell’,” Sutherland told reporters in Johannesburg. “(Our head of integrity) Iain Roy in his investigation found that to be the fact. I am satisfied that Darren Lehmann was not involved and didn’t know anything about the plan.”

Additional reading: 12 Tests, IPL, and millions of dollars – What Smith and Warner would miss.

Bancroft and Smith speak up

‘I lied. I panicked. I let everybody down’: Bancroft

An emotional Bancroft asked for forgiveness on Thursday over his part in a ball-tampering scandal, saying he was ashamed of himself, but refused to comment on the role David Warner played.

He apologised for what he did, admitting that he lied after panicking at being caught. He also said he will let his actions speak for him as “words don’t mean much in these circumstances” and has vowed to regain the respect of the cricket community.

‘It’s a failure of leadership... my leadership’: Smith

Smith, on arrival in Sydney on Thursday, apologised to cricket fans around the world. Addressing the media for the first time since he was banned and sent home by Cricket Australia, a very emotional Smith said, “To all of my teammates, to fans of cricket all over the world, and to all Australians who are disappointed and angry, I am sorry.”

He added, “As captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgement and I understand the consequences. It was a failure of my leadership.”

Smith later broke down while saying, “I’ll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it has caused. If any good can come from this, if it can be a lesson to others, then I hope I can be a force for change.”

He added, “I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I am absolutely gutted. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness. “I’ve been so privileged to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world; it has been my life and I hope it can be again. I am sorry and I am absolutely devastated.”

Lehmann says he has had enough

And then there were none... left in the leadership group. And more tears were shed.

Hours after Smith delivered an emotional press conference, Lehmann – despite a clean chit from CA – announced that the fourth Test against South Africa will be his last.

Lehmann, who was not was due to leave the job until after the 2019 Ashes series in England, is quitting despite being cleared of any role in the ball-tampering scandal that has rocked the sport. He had earlier made it clear that he will not resign from his post in the wake of the controversy but did admit that a shift in team’s playing culture is the need of the hour.

However, the 48-year-old seemed to have had a change of heart. In a press conference in Johannesburg, Lehmann said that the decision to step down was entirely his.

“This will be my last Test as head coach of the Australian cricket team,” Lehmann said. “Saying goodbye to the players was the toughest thing I have ever had to do.”

He added, “Speaking to my family, they’ve had enough of traveling 300 days. As many who sit in this room will know, life on the road means a lot of time away from loved ones and after speaking to my family, it is the right time to step away.”

Lehmann also asked people to forgive the three Australian players for what they did. “It’s been happening for a few days and you think you can keep going but the amount of abuse just takes its toll. They made a mistake,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

Will Warner have the last word?

Warner, a divisive figure in the world game, has become the focus of Australian media, who blame him for the scandal. The Australian newspaper said there had been a “fierce feud” in the dressing room sparked by Warner’s alleged testimony to CA’s integrity officers, with pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood reportedly livid at being implicated. It said they felt he was willing to blame them to take the heat off himself, with emotions so raw that Warner may never be welcomed back.

In his first statement since the ban, Warner said “mistakes have been made” and that he will talk to the media in a few days. Given how this controversy has snowballed, the final act could yet be significant, when Warner does open up.

(With agency inputs)