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Steve Smith steps down as Rajasthan Royals captain after ball-tampering scandal

Steve Smith has been stripped of the captaincy of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals on the eve of the new campaign for his role in Australia’s ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

The Aussie captain admitted he and a ‘leadership group’ deliberately tried to alter the condition of the ball during the 322-run defeat in the third Test in Cape Town.

Smith was stood down as skipper by Cricket Australia for the Test match and handed a one-match ban by the ICC.

Steve Smith has been stripped of the captaincy of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals

India batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been installed as the new skipper of the Royals

India batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been installed as the new skipper of the Royals

Steve Smith (right) was pictured at Australia's team hotel in Cape Town on Monday

Steve Smith (right) was pictured at Australia’s team hotel in Cape Town on Monday

Smith leans on a table as he makes conversation at waterfront hotel Southern Sun The Cullinan

Smith leans on a table as he makes conversation at waterfront hotel Southern Sun The Cullinan

 Smith's face and baseball cap can be seen peeking out from behind a pillar at the hotel

 Smith’s face and baseball cap can be seen peeking out from behind a pillar at the hotel

He was pictured in conversation with two men and checking his phone at the team hotel in Cape Town on Monday as he awaits news of his fate.

Smith was also leaning over a table, wearing T-shirt and shorts and a baseball cap at Southern Sun The Cullinan on the waterfront of the city.

But his IPL fate has already been sealed after he was relieved of his dies in charge of the Royals with the start of the new season only 12 days away, having been appointed captain just last month.

India batsman Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Royals instead. Last year Smith played for Rising Pune Supergiant. 

Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket, said, ‘The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricket world. 

‘We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Steve.

The Aussie captain checks his phone as he waits to learn his fate from Cricket Australia

The Aussie captain checks his phone as he waits to learn his fate from Cricket Australia

Luggage belonging to the Australian team is wheeled out of their hotel in Cape Town

Luggage belonging to the Australian team is wheeled out of their hotel in Cape Town

Smith was axed as skipper after the ball-tampering controversy for the Cape Town Test

Smith was axed as skipper after the ball-tampering controversy for the Cape Town Test

‘Steve believes given the current circumstances ‘it’s in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that he steps down as Captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions.’ 

‘He would like to extend his gratitude to the BCCI officials and all the fans in India for their constant support.’

Co-owner Manoj Badale added: ‘Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game.

‘The game is bigger than any individual and we hold this thought close to our heart. 

‘We agree with Steve’s decision to step down as captain, and we are fortunate to have such a capable successor with Ajinkya Rahane. It is important that all cricket fans retain a balanced perspective on the situation. 

Smith admitted that Australia deliberately tried to alter the condition of the ball in Cape Town 

Smith admitted that Australia deliberately tried to alter the condition of the ball in Cape Town 

Cameron Bancroft was seen running his hand over the ball, before removing a yellow object from his pocket

The Australia player was then spotted putting the object down the front of his trousers

Cameron Bancroft 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 was appointed as captain last month and loses the role on the eve of the new season

Smith was appointed as captain last month and loses the role on the eve of the new season

‘What happened in South Africa was clearly wrong, especially given that it appears to have been premeditated. That said, this will be a difficult time for Steve as well, given how much he cares about the game.’

Rajasthan Royals will launch their season with an away fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 9 followed by their first home game in Jaipur on April 11 where they will host Delhi Daredevils at Sawai Mansingh stadium. 

British prime minister Theresa May weighed into the discussion on Monday, agreeing with counterpart Malcolm Turnbull. 

An official spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister is clear that cheating has absolutely no place in cricket or indeed in any sport.

‘The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that cricket fans will be shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news, and the Prime Minister agrees with that.’

Smith faces an anxious wait to learn if he will hold onto the captaincy of the Australia side

Smith faces an anxious wait to learn if he will hold onto the captaincy of the Australia side

John Stephenson, MCC assistant secretary, said in a statement: ‘We welcome the swift action by the match officials, ICC and Cricket Australia in response to the admission of ball-tampering by senior Australia players.

‘Changing the condition of the ball is prohibited under Law 41 concerning unfair play. Law 41 also places upon the captains of both sides the responsibility for ensuring that play is carried out in accordance with the spirit of the game as well as within the laws.

‘The behaviour of some of the players in the current South Africa/Australia series, and other incidents in recent times in the game we all cherish, has fallen well below the standard required to inspire future generations of cricket-loving families.

‘The time has come for a major shift in attitude and culture of all those with responsibility for leadership within the game, to give young players the kind of role models who will uphold standards, preserve cricket and, vitally, the spirit of cricket for future generations.’



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