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CA launches ball tampering probe

CA chief executive says action will be taken when all relevant information is collected

Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland has foreshadowed that further sanctions await those found to have been directly involved with the cheating charges engulfing the Test team but added any penalties won't be decided until a full investigation is concluded.

A clearly angry and upset Sutherland fronted a media conference in Melbourne today to add his voice to the shock and outrage expressed by Australian cricket fans and followers of the sport worldwide since the actions of Steve Smith's team became apparent overnight.

But in the face of calls for immediate decisions to be made on the future of Smith and other members of the team's senior players that have been implicated in the acknowledged breach of the game's laws, Sutherland stressed the need for due process to be followed.

CA's Executive General Manager Team Performance Pat Howard, along with Senior Legal Counsel and Head of Integrity Iain Roy, were dispatched to South Africa today to undertake that probe and glean the finer details of the biggest scandal to hit the national men's team in decades.

While there are no immediate plans for CA to call an extraordinary board meeting, where decisions on captaincy of the Test team are formally ratified, Sutherland made it clear that the ICC Code of Conduct charge that was accepted by Cameron Bancroft was only the beginning of the official fall-out.

Smith will continue to lead the Australia team as it enters the fourth day of the current Test at Cape Town later today, facing an uphill on-field battle to avoid defeat and a 2-1 deficit in the four-match series.

Sutherland: It's a sad day for Australian cricket

"That can't be the end of it, we have a responsibility to take this further and to understand more about the issue," Sutherland said today.

"We are extremely disappointed and shocked at what we woke up to this morning, and we are dealing with this issue with the utmost urgency and seriousness.

"We certainly don't have all of the evidence at hand and we need someone to go over there and talk to the relevant people involved to understand what happened and the detail, and then we'll make appropriate decisions as to next step."

"We're in the middle of a game, and that game needs to conclude.

"I understand that's not necessarily the fullness of response that everyone is looking for right now, but there's an element of process that needs to be undertaken here.

"By appointing our Head of Integrity to this project , it is being dealt with as a matter of urgency and seriousness."

Sutherland also confirmed that, as of midday on Sunday in Melbourne, he had not spoken with Smith pointing to time differences with South Africa (Cape Town is currently nine hours behind AEDT) as one of the complicating factors in deciding those further actions.

But he added that given his public statement two weeks ago when he reminded Smith's Test outfit "of the standards of behaviour expected of players representing Australia" after the controversy-marred first Test at Durban, he will leave the captain in no doubt as to his views of the latest furore.

"He will know," Sutherland said when asked about the tenor of his message for Smith, while stopping short of using the term 'cheating' in reference to the ball tampering charges laid by the ICC and subsequently admitted by Smith and Bancroft.

"In recent times, I've had reason to speak to Steve about the team's behaviour.

"I have very strong and clear views about the responsibilities of the Australian cricket team to play the game in the right spirit.

"I don't think that anyone there will be under any illusions within the team as to what I think about this.

"It (ball tampering) is not allowed under the laws of the game, under the Code of Conduct and quite clearly he (Bancroft) has accepted the charge."

Bancroft, Smith reveal ball tampering plan

Sutherland said one of the items that Roy will be asked to investigate and address in his subsequent report will be the make-up and role of the team's 'leadership group' that Smith identified as the source of the yesterday's decision to change the state of the ball, in contravention of cricket's laws.

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke claimed earlier today that if a decision was made to stand down Smith from his role as captain in response to the issue, then the same sanction would need to be applied to other senior players involved.

But despite persistent questioning as to the measures that CA will impose and how far the net of responsibility will stretch for a decision that has drawn condemnation from former players and fans the world over, Sutherland reiterated the need for a full investigation to be completed.

"I'm not going to speculate on who's involved, and how far that goes," he said.

"There's been a reference to the leadership team and that's one of the things that Iain (Roy) will be charged with understanding better.

"That's an illustration of why we need to understand the facts to get a clearer picture of some of the detail and then put ourselves in a position to make some decisions.

"Clearly we've got information and understanding from the action that was taken by the ICC umpires, and beyond that from the press conference (given by Smith and Bancroft) afterwards.

"I'm not happy about this at all.

"I don't want to be here talking to you (media) but I am and it's my responsibility, but I feel like Australian cricket fans feel right now.

"My job is to understand the facts and then make a decision accordingly.

"Australian cricket fans want to be proud of their cricket team, and I think this morning they have every reason to wake up and not be proud of the team.

"It's a very sad day for Australian cricket."

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 (c), David Warner (vc), 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 Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage