The cricketing world was shocked when the Australian skipper Steve Smith admitted his involvement in the ball-tampering controversy in the third Test between South Africa and Australia. On the 3rd day of the Test in Cape Town, Cameron Bancroft was caught on the camera trying to alter the condition of the ball using a foreign object and then he hid that in his pocket and later inside his trousers.
Steve Smith admitted later in the press conference that it was a conscious effort to gain an unfair advantage and the leadership group was aware of that. He went on to say that it was against the laws and the spirit of the game and that it won’t happen again under his leadership.
But the cricketing fraternity was furious over the ball-tampering incident and the Australia team received rage from all parts. As a result, Smith decided to stand down from the captaincy role for the remainder of the Newlands Test. David Warner also stepped down from vice-captaincy and Tim Paine took charge of the proceedings.
ICC penalized Smith and Bancroft
The International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson laid the charge against Smith under Article 2.2.1 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel which prohibits ‘all types of conduct of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game’. It added 2 suspension points to Smith’s record – which equates to 4 demerit points and hence, a one-Test ban which means that Smith won’t take any part in the 4th Test of the series.
Cameron Bancroft was penalized with 75 percent fine of his match fee and handed three demerit points for breaching Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “changing the condition of the ball in breach of clause 41.3.”
“The decision made by the leadership group of the Australian team to act in this way is clearly contrary to the spirit of the game, risks causing significant damage to the integrity of the match, the players and the sport itself and is, therefore ‘serious’ in nature. As captain, Steve Smith must take full responsibility for the actions of his players and it is appropriate that he be suspended,” said Dave Richardson.
“The game needs to have a hard look at itself. In recent weeks we have seen incidents of ugly sledging, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off, ball tampering and some ordinary off-field behavior.
“The ICC needs to do more to prevent poor behavior and better police the spirit of the game, defining more clearly what is expected of players and enforcing the regulations in a consistent fashion. In addition and most importantly Member countries need to show more accountability for their teams’ conduct. Winning is important but not at the expense of the spirit of the game which is intrinsic and precious to the sport of cricket. We have to raise the bar across all areas,” added Richardson.
The Newlands Test was ultimately won by South Africa by a massive margin of 322 runs. The hosts took a 2-1 lead with the final Test to be played in Johannesburg starting March 30.