Smith, Warner and Bancroft to leave South Africa

The Australian vice-captain apparently also voluntarily removed himself from team's WhatsApp group as the cricket world awaits Cricket Australian CEO James Sutherland to make an announcement about the punishment for Smith, Warner, Bancroft, coach Darren Lehmann and those who were a part of the decision to opt for ball-tampering in the penultimate Test.

"The key finding is that prior knowledge of the ball-tampering incident was limited to three players - captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft".

Bancroft's use of tape to alter the condition of the ball in the third Test against South Africa has made worldwide headlines and attracted strong and widespread criticism, including from Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Cape Town change room is a very small place!", he tweeted shortly after Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland announced only three players knew of the plan. It is about the integrity and reputation of Australian Cricket and Australian sport.

Cricket Australia has officially reported Smith, Warner and Bancroft for breaching article 2.3.5 of the Code of Conduct and the sanctions would be revealed in the next 24 hours.

He said Tim Paine had been officially appointed the new captain of Australia.

Matthew Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell are on their way to South Africa to play in the fourth Test that starts on Friday.

Mr Sutherland said that an internal investigation, which is being helped by two International Cricket Council integrity officers, will be completed in the next 24 hours.

"Ultimately, it is about whether Australians can feel proud of their national sporting teams".

"From the Prime Minister down there have been views and opinions expressed, and that's a measure and indication of the standing of the game of cricket and the Australian cricket team in the eyes of the Australian public and everyone is entitled to those opinions", Sutherland said.

Captain Steve Smith, the other architect, has already been banned for one match by the ICC while the possibility of a life-time ban for Smith and Warner from the CA has also been mooted by a rabid Australian media.

The trio have admitted to concocting a plan involving Cameron Bancroft using yellow tape to deliberately scruff the ball during the third Test against South Africa.

"It is not a good day for Australian cricket".

Darren Lehmann will remain as Australia coach, despite reports to the contrary.

Lehmann took over the coaching reins in 2013 when predecessor Mickey Arthur was sacked, with Justin Langer considered a frontrunner as his replacement although Ricky Ponting will also be in the mix.

That group of senior players usually includes fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, but they are reportedly furious at being embroiled in the saga and may contact the Australian Cricketers Association to enlist union support to clear their names.

"The behaviour of some of the players in the current South Africa/Australia series, and other incidents in recent times in the game we all cherish, has fallen well below the standard required to inspire future generations of cricket-loving families", the MCC said.

  • Joey Payne