Smith, Warner given a year's suspension

Australian Steve Smith, who has been stood down from his captaincy role for a minimum two-year period, departs from Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday.
Australian Steve Smith, who has been stood down from his captaincy role for a minimum two-year period, departs from Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Bancroft banned nine months but coach Lehmann cleared in ball tampering probe

SYDNEY • Steve Smith and David Warner have been banned from representing their country for a year, with a nine-month suspension for Cameron Bancroft, after Cricket Australia (CA) came down hard on the three players involved in the ball-tampering fiasco.

The sanctions were announced yesterday in a statement, with Smith also stood down from his captaincy role for a minimum two-year period.

Warner was stripped of his position as deputy and will never again be considered for a leadership role, with the governing body having fingered him in developing the plot.

CA chairman David Peever said: "The CA Board understands and shares the anger of fans and the broader Australian community about these events.

"They go to the integrity and reputation of Australian cricket and Australian sport, and the penalties must reflect that."

Smith and Bancroft will have to wait two years before they are considered for leadership roles, and even then it will still "be conditional on acceptance by fans and the public".

The former captain and vice-captain have also been banned from taking part in this year's Indian Premier League (IPL), the world's richest cricket league. The duo had already stepped down from their roles as captain of their franchises, Smith who earns A$2 million (S$2.01 million) at Rajasthan Royals and Warner A$1.4 million at Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The punishments appear draconian when held up against the one-Test ban Smith received from the International Cricket Council while Bancroft, who was caught executing the ball-tampering during the 322-run third Test defeat by South Africa, was simply fined.

But CA and its chief executive, James Sutherland, have been under pressure from the public back home, sponsors and even Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to make an example of those involved.

After an investigation by Iain Roy, his head of integrity, Sutherland said on Tuesday that no other team-mates or staff, including coach Darren Lehmann, had been aware on the plan hatched during the lunch break at Newlands.

The trio have the right to appeal their punishments - they would get a hearing from an independent commissioner - and have been offered support from the Australian Cricketers' Association should they choose to go down this road.

Without an IPL berth next month, Smith could now seek a county cricket deal as it would allow the world's No. 1 Test batsman to prepare fully for defences of both the World Cup and the Ashes in England next year.

Whether Warner resumes his international career appears unclear, with the mood in the Australian camp having reportedly turned against him and his vocal position in last year's pay dispute has left few allies at board level.

The 31-year-old has also lost a personal sponsor, with South Korean multinational electronics company LG opting not to renew an expiring deal.

Bancroft, who made his Test debut only at the start of Australia's 4-0 Ashes victory, is due to play for Somerset this year and the English county championship side have put out two statements thus far saying they are monitoring his situation.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Smith, Warner given a year's suspension'. Print Edition | Subscribe