New Delhi: The trickle-down effect of Australia's ball-tampering scandal in South Africa may impact captain Steve Smith's chances of playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Rajasthan Royals, as the franchise on Sunday said it is closely watching the situation and awaiting instructions from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Smith, who was one of the players retained by the Royals before the IPL auction early this year, has been at the forefront of ball-tampering during the ongoing third Test in South Africa. Before the fourth day's play, Smith admitted that Cameron Bancroft used illegal means to tamper with the ball under the knowledge of Australia's "leadership group".
Following that, Smith and David Warner (vice-captain) relinquished their respective posts and wicketkeeper Tim Paine was asked to lead the side for the remainder of the Test. Also, Cricket Australia launched an investigation into the scandal after Smith took full responsibility of the incident at a press conference in Cape Town.
The Royals, meanwhile, issued a media release later on Sunday, saying they "will not tolerate any actions that are unfair by definition and bring disrepute to the game of cricket."
“We have been made aware of the controversy of ball tampering in the ongoing Australia-South Africa series and await further instructions from BCCI before we make any announcement. We at Rajasthan Royals will not tolerate any actions that are unfair by definition and bring disrepute to the game of cricket. Our Zero tolerance policy applies to everyone in our team. Please bear with us," the statement read.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, however, said Rajasthan Royals will wait and see what sanctions the ICC imposes on Steve Smith before taking a call on his future as the franchise's captain.
"The BCCI and Rajasthan Royals will like to wait for the ICC to announce the official sanction against Steve Smith. As of now, no decision will be taken either by the board or the franchise," Shukla told PTI.
"We will only take a call depending on the magnitude of sanction. Smith is an important player for Royals and their skipper. It's only fair that they wait," he added.
When asked about Cricket Australia's decision to sack both Smith and Warner, Shukla said: "That's an internal issue of Cricket Australia. The BCCI or IPL Governing Council have got nothing to do with it. Our only concern is ICC."
Another senior BCCI official, privy to the development, gave a practical view.
"Both Smith and Warner are an integral part of IPL as marquee players. We can't just take away their contracts for one incident. Also if ICC gives a one-Test ban or three demerit points, how can we impose hefty sanctions!
"Also Rajasthan is coming back this year. They need Smith both as a brand and a player," the senior office-bearer said.
The Royals are making a return to the league after serving a two-year suspension, along with Chennai Super Kings, in an IPL corruption case and would be wary of getting involved in any controversy on their comeback.
(With PTI inputs)