Steve Smith has stood down as captain for the remainder of their Test against South Africa after Australia became embroiled in a ball-tampering scandal.
David Warner has also relinquished his position as vice-captain for the fourth and fifth days in Cape Town, with Tim Paine appointed skipper for the remainder of the match.
It comes after Australia admitted they had planned for opener Cameron Bancroft to attempt to illegally alter the ball’s condition by using a sticky yellow tape on the rough side to allow it to pick up dirt from the floor and increase the chances of reverse swing.
Steve Smith (R) has stood down as captain for the remainder of their Test against South Africa
It comes after Cameron Bancroft found himself at the centre of ball-tampering allegations
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
David Warner (R) has also relinquished his position as vice-captain for the final two days
The admission of premeditated ball-tampering has brought Smith’s position as captain into question, but Cricket Australia have taken temporary action.
The pressure has mounted further on Smith, who, it is understood, has also been axed from his position as Rajasthan Royals captain for the upcoming IPL campaign.
Speaking on Sky Sports after the incident, former England Test captain Mike Atherton said: ‘It’s hard to see how Steve Smith will survive this.’
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said: ‘Following discussions with Steve Smith and David Warner they have agreed to stand down as captain and vice-captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match.
‘This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.
‘As I said earlier today, Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met.
Smith’s admission of premeditated ball-tampering led to calls for him to be sacked as skipper
CA have taken temporary action by appointing Tim Paine as skipper for the rest of the Test
‘All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority.’
CA chairman, David Peever said: ‘The board fully supports the process for an immediate investigation into what occurred in Cape Town.
‘We regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness and urgency. We will ensure we have all information available to make the right decisions for Australian Cricket.’
Smith confessed after the third day’s play that Australia’s ‘leadership group’ knew about the plot to tamper with the ball’s condition.
The No 1-ranked Test batsman admitted it brought Australian cricket’s integrity into question and fervently assured it would not happen again.
The 28-year-old later said he had not considered standing down as captain but Cricket Australia has decided to take the temporary measure ahead of day four.
Test legend Adam Gilchrist voiced his concern over the incident ahead of Sunday’s decision and questioned whether Smith could retain his position as captain.
Australia Test great Adam Gilchrist was emotional and voiced his concern about the incident
‘I’m really sad, shocked, stunned – I’m not trying to over-dramatise it but (I’m) really emotional about this,’ Gilchrist told Network Ten.
‘Australian cricket now and the integrity of Australian cricket is the laughing stock of world sport.
‘This clearly is against the laws of the game and we’ve just had our national captain and our national team admit that they sat down, premeditated and pre-planned a way to cheat.
‘I’m not sure he (Smith) can remain captain. I think it’s a pretty tough position to hold after you’ve admitted to what you’ve admitted to, (to be able to) carry on with any faith from anyone watching.
Simon Katich, who won 56 Test caps for Australia, went one further and believes all the team’s top brass deserve to be axed for the shameful incident.
Simon Katich believes Smith, Warner and head coach Darren Lehmann (above) should be axed
‘They (CA) have got no option but to sack Smith, Warner and (head coach Darren) Lehmann,’ Katich told Melbourne radio station SEN’s ‘Whateley’ programme.
‘This was premeditated, it was calculated at the (lunch) break – those guys are in charge of Cameron Bancroft behaving the way he did.
‘He (Bancroft) will cop a fine and Test match suspension through the match referee because he executed it, but it’s a bigger problem than that.
‘He’s been instructed to do this, and anyone in cricket knows that the coach and the captain are in control of what happens in a team.
‘I love Steve Smith, he’s a fantastic player but unfortunately he’s made a serious error of judgement and I think it’s going to cost him the captaincy of Australia because the bigger picture is far more important.
‘If CA come out of this and condone sledging, they condone blatant cheating then the message they send to the thousands of kids who aspire to wear the Baggy Green (Cap) … is far worse than the message of a few guys losing their jobs.’
Both Warner and Smith took the field at the start of the fourth day in Cape Town, but it is Paine who will be in charge.