A huge scandal unfurled after Australian captain Steve Smith on Saturday admitted that team member Cameron Bancroft tampered with ball during an ongoing Test match against South Africa and that the leadership group was aware of it. The confession has rocked the cricketing world, with many calling it a shameful chapter in Australian cricket.
Australian opening batsman Bancroft was caught on camera fiddling with the ball with a yellow object he took out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session on the third day of the Test at Newlands.
Afterwards, when field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth confronted him, Bancroft produced a soft pouch for sunglasses. As a result, the umpires took no action and did not change the ball.
When the footage of ball-tampered was aired on the big screen at the ground, the Newlands crowd present booed the team.
Later, while admitting to ball-tampering during a press conference, Bancroft said, "We had a discussion during the break. On myself I saw an opportunity to use some yellow tape and the granules from the rough patches of the wicket to change the condition of the ball."
The batsman reportedly met with the match officials after play and faced a charge of attempting to change the condition of the ball.
What's even more shocking is Smith's admission that the leadership team knew about the entire scheme of events.
"The coach (Darren Lehmann) isn`t involved. It was purely the leadership group and the players came up with this," he said adding, "Obviously today was a big mistake on my behalf and the leadership group`s behalf as well, but I take responsibility. I need to take control of the ship. This is something I`m not proud of."
However, the skipper said he would not resign. "No, I still think I`m the right person for the job," said the 28-year-old.
There was no immediate confirmation of the charge from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
When asked whether Australia had used similar methods in previous matches, notably in the first Test in Durban, where Mitchell Starc achieved prodigious reverse swing, Smith said: "You can ask questions as much as you like but I can promise you this is the first time it has happened. I`ve made it clear it is regrettable and we move on from this and hopefully will learn something from this."
Immediately after the confession, social media was abuzz with the scandal.
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke tweeted:
WHAT THE ........ HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO. Please tell me this is a bad dream.
— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) March 24, 2018
Former Australian cricketers Shane Warne and Mitchell Johnson also tweeted their disappointment:
Very disappointed with the pictures I saw on our coverage here in Cape Town. If proven the alleged ball tampering is what we all think it is - then I hope Steve Smith (Captain) & Darren Lehmann (Coach) do the press conference to clean this mess up !
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) March 24, 2018
Shocked & disappointed #SAvsAUS
— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) March 24, 2018
Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif tweeted:
Oh no ! Bancroft. Very embarrassing. From the looks of it, this is not on. Haven't seen a series marred by controversies like this one in a long long time. The Cricket has been great, but this .. #SAvAUS pic.twitter.com/2uNhxtBXTv
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) March 24, 2018
"This was a premeditated move by the Australian captain to cheat," said former England skipper Nasser Hussain.
Meanwhile, the Australian media has slammed team for their arrogance and being out of touch with a furious public.