Qantas Tour of South Africa
Investigation begins as decision looms
CA officials speak to Australian players and staff ahead of Wednesday's announcement of findings of tampering investigation
Sam Ferris in Cape Town
27 March 2018, 07:29 AM AEST
Selected players and support staff of Australia's men's cricket team were interviewed on Monday in Cape Town as Cricket Australia's internal investigation into the ball tampering scandal kicked off.
Cricket Australia (CA) Head of Integrity Iain Roy has been tasked with carrying out the investigation and conducted interviews at the team hotel, which saw hungry news crews and photographers huddled outside the main entrance for most of the day.
Prior to the interviews beginning, Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Alister Nicholson, flanked by two ACA lawyers, spoke to the playing group.
The Australian team will now fly to Johannesburg on Tuesday night (AEDT) to begin preparations for the fourth Test, which starts on Friday at The Wanderers.
Having flown to South Africa from Melbourne on Monday, CA chief executive James Sutherland will be in Johannesburg when the team arrives and he will await the findings of Roy’s investigation. He's aiming to provide an update to the Australian public by Wednesday morning AEDT or within 48 hours of his departure.
Sutherland’s arrival indicates CA is considering applying their own sanctions to the players involved beyond those handed down by the International Cricket Council on Sunday.
ICC chief executive David Richardson suspended Australia captain Steve Smith for one Test and fined him 100 per cent of his match fee, while Cameron Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee and awarded three demerit points to his disciplinary record.
Smith stood down from his leadership role for the fourth and final day of the third Test at Newlands, as did vice-captain David Warner.
The incident that led to the charges being laid took place during South Africa's innings on Saturday afternoon in Cape Town when Bancroft was seen on television holding a foreign object while rubbing the ball, before hiding the object in his pocket, then inside his trousers.
As soon as the incident was shown on the big screen, the player was questioned in the presence of his captain by the two on-field umpires, Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong, who, along with third umpire Ian Gould and fourth umpire Allahudien Palekar, later charged Bancroft.
The umpires inspected the ball at that time and elected not to replace it nor award a five-run penalty as they could not see any marks on the ball that suggested its condition had been changed as a direct result of Bancroft's actions.
The umpires, though, agreed that Bancroft's actions were likely to alter the condition of the ball and he was therefore charged.
The plan to alter the condition of the ball had been made at the lunch break on day three between senior players from Australia without the consent of the coaching staff, according to Smith.
Bancroft, who was in the vicinity of the senior players at lunch, was tasked to use the foreign item - a piece of yellow tape that was used to collect chunks of dislodged pitch - and was caught doing so.
Match referee Andy Pycroft said: "To carry a foreign object on to the field of play with the intention of changing the condition of the ball to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent is against not only the Laws, but the Spirit of the game as well.
"That said, I acknowledge that Cameron has accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to the charge and apologising publicly. As a young player starting out in international cricket, I hope the lessons learned from this episode will strongly influence the way he plays the game during the rest of his career."
Smith has not missed a Test since March 2013 in India, a streak of 59 matches in which he scored 23 Test centuries, was handed the Test captaincy and ascended to the top of the Test batting rankings.
He fronted the media on Saturday night and confessed his regret and part in the wrongdoing.
"Obviously, today was a big mistake on my behalf and on the leadership group's behalf as well," he said.
"But I take responsibility as the captain, I need to take control of the ship, but this is certainly something I'm not proud of and something that I hope I can learn from and come back strong from.
"I am embarrassed to be sitting here talking about this."
With Smith out of the fourth Test, reserve batsman Peter Handscomb looks set to return to the playing XI after he was dropped after two Tests in the Magellan Ashes this summer.
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test South Africa won by 322 runs. Scorecard
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage