Steven Smith and David Warner, formerly captain and vice-captain of Australia, have been banned from playing international and domestic cricket for 12 months by Cricket Australia for their roles in the pre-meditated plan to tamper with the ball during the Cape Town Test. Warner is banned from captaincy for life, and Smith for 12 months after the completion of his ban. Cameron Bancroft, the player caught tampering with the ball, was banned from playing for nine months and from captaincy for 12 months after the completion of his ban.
Cricket Australia has said that the plan was devised by Warner, the foreign object used was sandpaper and that Bancroft and Smith lied publicly in their post-match press conference in referring to it as adhesive tape. The full charge sheet confirms a raft of misdeeds by the trio, under which they have been charged with conduct contrary to the spirit of the game, conduct unbecoming, conduct harmful to the interests of cricket, and conduct bringing the game into disrepute. The basis for these charges includes the following: Warner developed the plan to alter the condition of the ball, instructed Bancroft in how to do it including making a demonstration of technique with sandpaper, and the misled the umpires by helping to conceal the plan. Smith had prior knowledge of the plan and did not stop it, directed the plan’s concealment on the field once it became apparent that the team had been caught out on the big screen, and then made “misleading” public comments about the “nature, extent and participants” in the plan. Bancroft had knowledge of the plan, took instruction as to its carrying out and then did so, before seeking to conceal the evidence and then to mislead the umpires as to what had taken place, and then joined Smith in making misleading public comments about what he had done.
All three players were told of their bans in person by the CA chief executive James Sutherland at the team hotel in Johannesburg this morning. Smith left the team hotel to fly home soon afterwards. All players will have the right to challenge the verdicts and also the duration of their penalties via a CA code of behaviour hearing with an independent commissioner, who can also choose whether the hearing is public or private. Players at the hearing are permitted to call as many witnesses as they like and also to have legal representation.
Warner, who has been singled out as the architect of the plan and given the harshest penalty of the three, is expected to challenge the verdict and take the matter to a code of conduct hearing. It is not known what Smith and Bancroft intend to do – all three players have seven days to consider the charges and their intent to accept or challenge. All three players have been replaced in the squad ahead of the fourth Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.
While banned from international and first-class cricket, Smith, Warner and Bancroft are all permitted to play club cricket for the period of their bans “to maintain links with the cricket community”, and at the same time will be required to commit to 100 hours of voluntary service in community cricket.
Smith and Warner had already stepped down from their positions as captains of the IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, and have subsequently been banned from playing in the tournament. (Cricinfo)