Cricket fans hoping for a swift resolution to the Australian Test team's ball-tampering admissions in South Africa won't get it. Cricket Australia said Sunday it will send an investigative team to Cape Town immediately to look into all aspects of the case before deciding what action to take, and that could take several days. The skipper and the batsman have been under heavy scrutiny and the Australian board will begin their probe. The skipper might be on the end of the line after his 'disgraceful' actions may see him sacked.
Calling it a "very sad day for Australian cricket," Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he was "extremely disappointed and shocked" by the news from the third Test on Saturday.
"Australian cricket fans want to be proud of their cricket team," Sutherland said. "I feel this morning they have every reason to wake up and not be proud of the team."
"One of the unique things about the game of cricket, is it is to be played not only within the laws of the game, but in the spirit of the game. And, activities on the field yesterday, are neither within the laws of the game or the spirit of the game."
Australia cricketers confessed to ball tampering in a desperate plot hatched by captain Steve Smith and senior players as they saw the third Test against South Africa slipping away.
Batsman Cameron Bancroft was tasked with carrying out the tampering by using yellow adhesive tape to pick up "granules" beside the pitch and rub it on the ball to rough it up in an attempt to get it to reverse swing on day three at Newlands.
But Bancroft was caught doing it on the field by television cameras, and then attempted to hide the evidence by shoving the tape down his trousers before he was questioned by umpires.
"The leadership group knew about it," Smith said, admitting he and senior players who he would not name planned the cheating during the lunch break. "We spoke about it at lunch and I'm not proud of what's happened. It's not within the spirit of the game."
When Sutherland announced he would be speaking to the media at midday Sunday in front of Cricket Australia's corporate offices in Melbourne, commentators and former cricketers wondered whether Smith would be sacked.
Former captain Michael Clarke said that if, as Smith said, that coach Darren Lehmann wasn't aware of the plot, that Lehmann must have lost control of the dressing room.
But Sutherland's decision was to wait until he has more information. In the interim, Smith is still captain.
Sutherland said Cricket Australia is sending their head of integrity, Iain Roy, to South Africa to investigate the scandal. He also refused to make comment on Smith's long-term position as captain but said Roy and high performance manager Pat Howard would be in Cape Town to investigate the matter.
"We are in the middle of the game right now and that game needs to conclude. But over the course of the next couple of days we will get to the bottom of this and we will take appropriate action," Sutherland said.
Former Test batsman Simon Katich has no doubt what that action should be — Smith and Lehmann must go.
Katich said he was "sick to his stomach" when he woke up to the news from South Africa on Sunday morning.
"They've got no option because this was premeditated and calculated at the break, and those guys are in charge of Cameron Bancroft behaving the way he did," Katich said on SEN Radio.
Australia trails South Africa by 294 runs with two days of the Test remaining. The four-Test series is level 1-1.
(With AP Inputs)