Australian captain Steve Smith’s could lose out on £20million in future earnings and sponsorship deals after being exposed as a cheat, it was revealed today.
Cricket former golden boy is the world’s number one batsman but experts have predicted he may ‘lose it all’.
The 28-year-old was Australia’s darling after thrashing England in the Ashes – the country of his mother’s birth – but being architect of a ball tampering plot in South Africa has left his career in tatters.
He was forced to make a grovelling apology after TV cameras caught teammate Cameron Bancroft, 25, trying to alter the condition of the ball with a piece of tape covered in dirt.
And sponsors including New Balance, Fit Bit, Commonwealth Bank, healthcare business Sanitarium and Australian cereal giant Weet-Bix look set to dump him after his brand turned toxic overnight.
The businesses are all likely to have morality or anti-cheating clauses in their contracts meaning they can tear up the deals and even demand money back through the courts.
Australian captain Steve Smith, pictured with his fiancee Dani Willis after winning the Ashes, could ‘lose it all’ after being exposed as a cheat, according to brand experts
Steve Smith (pictured) is set to lose millions in slaries and endorsements including for Weet-bix, Australia’s number one cereal
Smith faces the music with Cameron Bancroft after they were caught cheating on live TV as millions watched
He initially refused to stand down as captain but 24 hours later he quit for the rest of the series after the country’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the behaviour of the sportsmen ‘beggars belief’ and was a ‘shocking disappointment’.
Smith and Dani, pictured together in January, have gone to ground after the scandal
Smith and vice-captain David Warner could face a life ban for conduct contrary to the spirit of the game and tens of millions in potential earnings probably vanished overnight.
‘He [Smith] will lose it all, everything. And I doubt whether he will ever play cricket for Australia again. It is dreadful,’ celebrity agent Max Markson told the Today show.
‘If he is earning $2 or $3million a year or more and there is ongoing percentage of deals and back ends and things like that.
‘So if he has another 10 years, that’s $30 to $40million (£20million). He has a career ahead of him. But he will always be known as a cheater.’
Smith was Cricket Australia’s most marketable player, and is the face of Weet Bix television commercials.
He was also the face of American footwear giant New Balance, which last year made him its ‘global ambassador’.
Smith is most likely to lose these endorsements after his personal brand turned toxic.
Had things taken a different twist, Smith could have been lining up for England.
Smith’s mother Gillian is from Kent and he has a British passport. When he left school at 17 to play league cricket in England, he was offered a contract by Surrey, and discussed his options with Tony Ward, a family friend in Sevenoaks.
As any Australia captain would be duty-bound to do in such circumstances, Smith has always insisted his loyalties were to the country of his birth.
In his autobiography he wrote: ‘If it had been about money then it would have been no contest. But I had my heart set on playing state and international cricket in Australia’.
His mother Gillian, her son’s biggest supporter, is yet to speak out about the crisis.
Smith’s mother Gillian is from Kent and he has a British passport – but he chose the country of his birth instead
Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera pulling sticky tape from his pocket and rubbing it on the ball to illegally gain an advantage on Saturday afternoon
The opening batsman was seen running his hand over the ball, before removing a yellow object from his pocket and placing it down the front of his trousers. Smith and Warner have taken the blame
The shamed cricketer is now believed to be flying back to Australia, unable to play in the final test of the South Africa series due to his one-match suspension.
He was due to fly to India for the IPL competition where he was going to be paid AUD$2.4million (£1.3million) for less than two months’ work, making him the highest-paid Australian in the franchise’s history.
But his involvement – and the money on offer- is looking increasingly unlikely.
The Rajasthan Royals – with whom Smith has a big money contract – stated it has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on cheating, with the captain’s future now in doubt.
Toxicity from the scandal also threatens his colleagues on the Australian team, with shirt sponsors Qantas expressing deep disapointment as team sponsor Magellan also spoke out.
This IPL cash came on top of their earnings from Cricket Australia – over $1.2million for Smith in 2017.
Last year he got engages to law student Dani Willis after whisking her to New York to propose.
Dani plastered her Instagram accounts with selfies in the sun and family trips to wineries in South Africa where the Baggy Greens are currently playing. But their holiday has also been cut short as Smith flew home.
Off the back of his earnings Smith has an extensive and growing property portfolio – adding to his Coogee apartment with homes in Balmain, Birchgrove, Sans Souci and Marrickville suburbs of Sydney.
Smith (pictured in New York City after proposing to Dani Willis) has an extensive and growing property portfolio – adding to his Coogee apartment with homes in Balmain, Birchgrove, Sans Souci and Marrickville
The level of outrage appears to have caught the Australian team by surprise, their bubble burst by the avalanche of criticism dumped on them after they were caught (pictured is one of Smith’s Sydney properties)
Smith’s growing property portfolio has been built up off the back of his brand, which will now be tarnished for good
His Coogee two-bedroom apartment with ocean views cost him $1.75million in 2011, and he is seeking tenants to rent out his Balmain East terrace at $2000 a week.
Many of the country’s most celebrated former players rounded on the team and called for Smith and his co-conspirators to face lengthy bans.
Former batsman Jimmy Maher called it a ‘national day of shame’ for the country ‘and for the entire cricket world, really’.
Smith was the darling of Australian and world cricket. He is ranked the best batsman in the world
Former captain Adam Gilchrist said: ‘Stunned and shocked are two words that come to mind and then when you learn more about it, I feel embarrassed and sad.
‘The integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport. We’re quick to damn nations that cheat and go against the rules. Now we’ve just had our national captain and team say they sat down and planned a way to cheat.’ On Twitter, another former Australian captain Michael Clarke wrote: ‘WHAT THE …… HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO? Please tell me this is a bad dream.’
Former star spinner Shane Warne added: ‘I don’t care who you are, you can’t tamper with the ball. I know the Australian sides I played in never did anything like that.’
James Sutherland, chief executive of Cricket Australia, said: ‘Australian fans want to be proud of their team. This morning they will wake up and not be proud. This is a sad day for Australian cricket.’ Smith was been banned for just one match and fined his match fee by the International Cricket Council after previously refusing to step down.
Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee – but given permission to play in the final Test of the South Africa series which starts on Friday.
Smith insisted it was the first time he had asked one of his players to cheat. But footage surfaced yesterday of Bancroft acting suspiciously during the latest Ashes series in Australia, which the hosts won comprehensively.
The short video clip appears to show the batsman pouring sugar into his pocket before taking the field at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January.
The multi-million dollar Twenty20 salaries came on top of their earnings from Cricket Australia – over $1.2million for Smith in 2017 and over $900,000 for Warner (pictured is Steve Smith with Roger Federer)
In November Bancroft and Smith were seen smirking as they battered England in the Ashes but their reputations are now tarnished for good after being exposed as cheats
Fans and cricket writers suggested Bancroft looked sheepish and said the sugar could have been used to tamper with the ball to change its condition and thereby gain an unfair advantage. Australia went on to win the match by a huge margin.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland is set to fly out to South Africa as investigations into the ball-tampering scandal continue.
Steve Smith’s future as Australia’s Test captain is in doubt after he admitted the team’s ‘leadership group’ intentionally planned to manipulate the ball during the third Test against the Proteas.
Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera appearing to tamper with the ball and now Sutherland intends to discover exactly what happened ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Sutherland said: ‘Iain Roy and Pat Howard arrive in Cape Town this morning local time, and Iain will immediately conduct his inquiries around the specifics of the ball-tampering incident.
‘I am travelling to Johannesburg this evening and will arrive Tuesday morning local time to meet Iain to understand the findings of the investigation to that point, and to determine recommended outcomes.
‘We know Australians want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings and next steps, as a matter of urgency.’
‘A sad day for Australian cricket’: How the cheating scandal unfolded
The ball-tampering incident took place during the Saturday afternoon session in Cape Town and was picked up by TV cameras.
A small, yellow object was seen in batsman Cameron Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, the opener later revealing it to be a piece of tape covered in dirt.
He was later captured taking it from his pocket and placing it down his trousers, a few moments after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come onto the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann via walkie-talkie.
Although the two on-field umpires, Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong of England, questioned Bancroft at the time, he produced what appeared to be a black sunglasses bag from his right pocket in way of explanation, in a bid to deceive the officials.
‘Once I was sighted on the big screens I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers,’ said Bancroft.
No action was taken at the time — the umpires could have changed the ball or docked Australia runs — but match officials, including referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe, were able to review TV footage of the incident.
But after the day’s play, captain Steve Smith and Bancroft admitted the ball-tampering in a press conference.
Bancroft revealed: ‘We had a discussion during the (lunch) break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition — it didn’t work, the umpires didn’t change the ball.’
Bancroft and Steve Smith admitted that ball tampering had taken place during the action
Smith continued: ‘It was a poor choice and we deeply regret our actions. The coaches weren’t involved. It was purely the leadership group who came up with this.
‘We saw this game as such an important game. We’ve seen the ball reversing through this series and this ball didn’t seem like it was going to go. It’s such poor actions. Deeply regrettable.’
Smith and vice-captain David Warner were sacked from their positions before play on Sunday. Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee.