Cricket: Three Australian Players Sent Home following Ball-Tampering Scandal

Australian captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft have been sent home from South Africa this morning after tampering with the ball in the third Test in Cape Town.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the sanctions to be handed within 24 hours against the three players will be “significant”.

Sutherland also said coach Darren Lehmann will remain in the team amid reports of possible resignation over the ball-tampering scandal.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine has been announced as captain for the rest of the season, with Matthew Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns replacing Smith, Warner and Bancroft. The replacements will fly to South Africa for the fourth Test on Friday.

Sutherland said Cricket Australia will complete the investigation into the scandal. “I share the anger and disappointment of Australian fans and the broader Australian community about events that unfolded in Cape Town on Saturday,” said Sutherland.

“On behalf of Cricket Australia, I want to apologise to all Australians that these events have taken place, especially to all kids who love cricket and idolise the players… I want to also apologise to Cricket South Africa and South African fans that this issue has overshadowed what should have been a great series.”

ABC commentator Jim Maxwell said Warner might not play for the national team again after the tampering. “Warner’s the one who really should wear most of this, and I’ll be very surprised if he plays for Australia again,” Maxwell told BBC.

“He’s clearly been ostracised by the rest of the players, I could see that in the body language on the plane, so I think he’s pretty close to persona non grata from here on.”

Journalist Robert Craddock told Fox Sports that Warner allegedly testified against bowlers Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood in an interview with Cricket Australia’s integrity unit.

On Saturday, Bancroft was caught on camera tampering the ball with a yellow object. Smith said “the leadership group” was aware of the idea, and “thought it was a way to get an advantage”. The following day, the ICC banned Smith for one match and fined his entire match fee, while Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points.