Problems seem to be mounting for Steve Smith and Australian cricket post the disgraceful ball-tampering saga that has thrown the country's national cricket team into a crisis. If reports in the English media are to be believed, Smith is set to be permanently stripped of the Australian cricket team's captaincy and could also face a ban of up to one year after he confessed to being part of a player "leadership group" that came up with a plan to cheat by tampering with the ball during play on Saturday in the third test against South Africa in Cape Town.
A report in The Guardian suggested that Smith's fate is expected to be sealed on Tuesday along with vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft. Meanwhile, Smith has already lost his job as the captain of the Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royals ahead of the start of the 11th season.
Cricket Australia's investigation into the plot that plunged the team into crisis and threatens the future of its captain and best player began on Monday after two senior officials arrived in South Africa to start work uncovering the extent of the rot.
Tough questions have also been asked by the Australian media over the involvement of coach Darren Lehmann, and if he knew about the plan.
The report also said that Lehmann is set to resign from his position.
Cricket Australia's head of integrity Iain Roy and high-performance manager Pat Howard are in Cape Town to lead the investigation.
After arriving, Roy "will immediately conduct his inquiries around the specifics of the ball tampering incident," the Australian cricket body said.
The initial part of the investigation will likely be done at the Australian team's luxury Cape Town waterfront hotel, where they are holed up ahead of traveling to Johannesburg for the final Test of the series.
Smith, who has temporarily stepped down, confessed to being part of a player "leadership group" that came up with a plan to cheat by tampering with the ball during play on Saturday in the third test against South Africa in Cape Town. Cameron Bancroft, a newcomer to the team, admitted that he was the player tasked with doing the on-field tampering, roughing up the ball with a piece of yellow adhesive tape and some dirt stuck to it in a desperate attempt to give the Australian bowlers an unfair advantage.
Roy and Howard will investigate, among other things, who else formed the "leadership group" Smith referred to. Smith refused to name names at the time.
Like Smith, vice-captain David Warner temporarily stood down from his role a day after the cheating, and is implicated in being part of the plot by doing that.
Sutherland was also traveling to South Africa and CA said it expected to provide some answers to an outraged Australian public by Tuesday evening South African time, Wednesday morning back home in Australia.
The boss's decision to head to South Africa himself underlined the severity of the scandal. He said he expected to receive a report from Roy and Howard in Johannesburg on Tuesday after the team travels there from Cape Town.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever asked for a little patience to carry out the investigation with "due diligence", with cricket-mad Australians, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, demanding answers and action with the reputation of their favorite sporting team in tatters.
Turnbull on Tuesday said the cheating plot involving the national cricket team was a "disgrace" and called on Cricket Australia to "act decisively and emphatically".
Smith was banned for the last match of the series by the International Cricket Council, a punishment viewed as lenient by some but which was in line with ICC protocols. Cricket Australia may not be so kind on Smith, who has endured a steep and sudden fall from his position as the golden boy of Australian cricket and the top-ranked test batsman in the world.
Bancroft received disciplinary demerit points from the ICC, but not enough to be banned. Again, that's been seen as insufficient after he was caught in the act of tampering with the ball on the field by television cameras in a highly embarrassing moment for a team seen as a giant in world cricket. Bancroft's attempt to hide the evidence by shoving the small piece of tape down the front of his trousers and then trying to deceive the umpires by claiming innocence exacerbated the fallout.
Smith and Warner are in danger of being fired permanently from their positions and even expelled from the team. Bancroft could also be in for harsher punishment from Cricket Australia.
(With AP inputs)