New Delhi, March 25: Steve Smith and David Warner have relinquished their roles as Australia captain and vice-captain respectively for the last two days of the ongoing Test against South Africa in Cape Town as a result of the explosive ball-tampering row.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine will act as captain for the Newlands Tests, with Warner and Smith set to take the field on Sunday.
“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,” said Cricket Australia (CA) CEO James Sutherland. “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.”
Added CA chairman David Peever: “The Board of Cricket Australia has endorsed Tim Paine to step in as Acting Captain for the remainder of this Test. Both Steve and David will take to the field today under Tim’s captaincy. 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.”
Earlier on Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in on the controversy and slammed Smith’s team for cheating. “We all woke up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” he told reporters. “It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating. After all, our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play. How can our team engage in cheating like this? It beggars belief. There’s a lot of disappointment.”
Turnbull said that he had spoken to Peever and expressed “unequivocally my disappointment and my concern about the events in South Africa”.
CA has launched an investigation into the ball-tampering scandal, with its head of integrity Iain Roy and head of team performance Pat Howard en route to South Africa. “We have a responsibility to take this further and to understand more about the issue,” Sutherland told reporters in Sydney. “We will, over the next couple of days, get a deep understanding of what happened and why. We are extremely disappointed and shocked and we are dealing with this issue with utmost urgency and seriousness. This is a very sad day for Australian cricket and I feel like Australian cricket fans feel right now.”