Australia cricket captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft have all been sent home from the tour of South Africa for their role in the ball-tampering scandal and face "significant sanctions" in the next 24 hours, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland announced on Tuesday in a press conference in Johannesburg. Matthew Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns will replace Smith, Warner and Bancroft respectively and will fly to Johannesburg over the next 24 hours to join the squad for the fourth Test against South Africa.
Sutherland said those three were the only players involved in the ball tampering plot in the third Test against South Africa on Saturday. Sutherland said an internal investigation into the cheating plot has not been completed, but will be in the next 24 hours and the three players can expect serious punishments. Sutherland also said coach Darren Lehmann was not involved in the cheating plot in any way and has not resigned, contrary to media reports.
The cricket board has also announced endorsed Tim Paine as the new captain of the Australian men’s Test team, adding that the sanctions are expected to be announced within the next 24 hours.
The preliminary findings have confirmed that prior knowledge of the incident in Cape Town was confined to only the three players reported. (Also read: Australians want 'rogue' David Warner out of team hotel)
In a press release, Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever said: "We understand and share the anger of fans and the broader Australian community about the events that unfolded in Cape Town on Saturday. This issue goes beyond the technical nature of the offences and various codes of conduct. It is about the integrity and reputation of Australian Cricket and Australian sport. Ultimately, it is about whether Australians can feel proud of their national sporting teams."
"That depends as much on the way the players conduct themselves, as it does about winning or losing. It is about how we play the game," Peever concluded. (Also read: Smith's IPL future to be decided after CA's final verdict)
Cricket Australia CEO Sutherland issued and apology to the cricket fans and also to the South African Cricket Board. "In view of the broader reputational and integrity issues involved, the sanctions that will be contemplated are significant. The process must therefore be thorough to ensure that all relevant issues have been examined," Sutherland said.
"I understand the appetite for urgency given the reputation of Australia as a sporting nation has been damaged in the eyes of many. However, urgency must be balanced with due process given the serious implications for all involved. (Watch: Australia's national radio station taunts Smith & Co)
"In addition to sanctions for individuals, Cricket Australia will initiate an independent review into the conduct and culture of our Australian men’s teams.
"We will have more to say about this review in the coming days, but it will be conducted by an expert panel who will report to the Cricket Australia Board,” Sutherland concluded.
Sutherland also indicated strong support for ICC Chief Executive Officer David Richardson’s comments on Sunday that the game needs to have a hard look at itself, to improve standards of behaviour across the board. (Also read: Waugh 'deeply troubled' after ball-tampering row)
Smith, the golden boy of Australian cricket, faces being permanently stripped of the captaincy for his part in a plot to tamper with the ball.
Warner, whose role in the scandal was officially confirmed for the first time by Sutherland, is also likely to be permanently fired as vice-captain.
Bancroft was the man tasked with tampering with the ball with a piece of yellow adhesive tape and some dirt gathered from the pitch during the third day of the third test against South Africa in Cape Town. Bancroft bungled it, however, and was caught on TV cameras doing the tampering and then trying to hide the piece of tape down the front of his trousers.
Smith and Bancroft confessed to their roles in the plot, but Warner was not named formally as also being part of the cheating until Tuesday.