Australia's Steven Smith and David Warner have been removed as captain and vice-captain, respectively for the remainder of the ongoing third Test against South Africa in the wake of the ball-tampering controversy.
Wicket-keeper Tim Paine will act as captain at Newlands, with both Smith and Warner taking the field on Sunday, according to Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland.
The decision comes on the back of the ongoing ball-tampering issue, with Cameron Bancroft caught on cameras using what is believed to be a tape before attempting to hide the object on the third day of the Cape Town Test on Saturday.
Smith and Bancroft admitted to the offence after play on the day, and Bancroft was charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for altering the conditions of the ball.
A contrite Smith and Bancroft later addressed a press conference, admitting to ball-tampering and apologised for their actions.
BREAKING - Steven Smith and David Warner to stand down as Australia's captain and vice-captain respectively for the remainder of the third #SAvAUS Test in Cape Town - CA CEO James Sutherland says in a statement. @vikrantgupta73 pic.twitter.com/tG6kT9kOza— Kiran Parmar (@kiranparmar21) March 25, 2018
Sutherland said: "Following discussions with Steve Smith and David Warner they have agreed to stand down as Captain and Vice-Captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match.
"This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.
"As I said earlier today, Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met."
CA chairman David Peever said: "The Board fully supports the process for an immediate investigation into what occurred in Cape Town.
"We regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness and urgency. We will ensure we have all information available to make the right decisions for Australian Cricket."
- Pressure from Australian government
Earlier on Sunday, the Australian government had asked Cricket Australia to remove Smith as captain with immediate effect, after the Cape Town Test ball-tampering row.
Australian Sports Commission (ASC) chief John Wylie, the ASC Board, and CEO Kate Palmer, essentially speaking for the Australian government have called for a severe action to be taken against everyone involved in the incident.
"The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport. It expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country. Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball. This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation," espncricinfo.com quoted a statement from the ASC.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, too, slammed the national cricket team for cheating.
"We all woke up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa. It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating. After all, our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play. How can our team by engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief. There's a lot of disappointment," news.com.au quoted Turnbull as saying.
He added that he had a word with Cricket Australia chairman David Peever and hoped the sport's governing body would take a "decisive action".
"I've expressed to him very clearly and unequivocally my disappointment and my concern about the events in South Africa. It's their responsibility to deal with it but I have to say the whole nation who holds those who wear the baggy green up on a pedestal - about as high as you can get in Australia, higher than any politician that's for sure - this is a shocking disappointment and it's wrong and I look forward to Cricket Australia taking decisive action soon," the Australian Prime Minister added.
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia on Sunday launched a formal investigation into the matter.
"We are extremely disappointed and shocked at what we woke up to this morning, and we are dealing with this issue with the utmost urgency and seriousness. We certainly don't have all of the evidence at hand and we need someone to go over there and talk to the relevant people involved to understand what happened and the detail, and then we'll make appropriate decisions as to next step," cricket.com.au quoted Cricket Australia Chief Executive, James Sutherland as saying.
In times that call for an immediate decisions on the future of Steve Smith and other members of the team's 'leadership group' that have been implicated in the acknowledged breach, Sutherland had stressed the need for a due process to be followed.
"We're in the middle of a game, and that game needs to conclude. I understand that's not necessarily the fullness of response that everyone is looking for right now, but there's an element of process that needs to be undertaken here," he said.
Further, Sutherland also confirmed that he hasn't spoken to Smith owing to the time differences with South Africa.
Earlier on Saturday, when Smith was asked if he was contemplating resigning as the skipper, he had said that he believes he is still the right person for the job.
"Today was a big mistake on my behalf and on the leadership group's behalf as well. But I take responsibility as the captain. I need to take control of the ship, but this is certainly something I'm not proud of and something that I hope I can learn from and come back strong from," he had said.
BREAKING:— Peter Lalor (@plalor) March 25, 2018
Australia will take the field with Tim Paine as captain.
Warner and Smith will play. pic.twitter.com/3qBAaOtM3O
How The World Reacted
Some heads will roll and rightly so ... But you have to think every single player & management knew what they were trying to do .. 12th man Handscombe on the Walkie Talkie was in on it .. So In my eyes they are all as bad as each other .. #Cheats- Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 25, 2018
The Team that are now known for being CHEATS .... https://t.co/wjJFhGZQ9O-Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 25, 2018
The first major fallout is here. Smith and Warner stood down as captain and vice-captain. Only alternative was to go with Paine. But expect more to come-Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 25, 2018
One ill-conceived, insidious plan and some potentially great careers lie in tatters. What acute tragedy!- Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) March 25, 2018
Watch: Australia accept they tampered the ball pic.twitter.com/MpxLvMA1jw-ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) March 25, 2018
Traditionally, the new bloke got told to field at short leg. Now, he gets told to cheat for his captain. Brave new world. #RSAvsAUS- Peter Hanlon (@PeterGHanlon) March 24, 2018
There must be zero tolerance about this. Cheaters have no place in the game. Both ICC and CA must be strict with their actions.#BallTampering-Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) March 25, 2018
Slept on it...Lehmann, Saker & the leaderships groups jobs are untenable!-Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) March 25, 2018
They've disgraced a great cricketing nation -Test cricket!
Seriously, what39;s the point of 39;standing down39; as captain and vice-captain for the -remainder of the Test?"-stuart hess (@shockerhess) March 25, 2018
The more you think about it, it's not the tampering that grates. Every team does it. The others are just less dumb-and-dumber about how they do so. No, what's really dismal is how they got the junior to do the dirty work. That, to me, isn't leadership. It's cowardice. #SAvAUS-Dileep Premachandran (@SpiceBoxofEarth) March 25, 2018
Tomorrow's front page today ... and it's all about cricket pic.twitter.com/mJ6dEp5PCb- wally mason (@walmason) March 25, 2018
Dear Australian cricket team; I teach my sport loving son to win with honour and lose with grace. I’m now having to explain your behaviour. I can’t even begin to understand it. A Mum.-Zoe Daniel (@zdaniel) March 24, 2018
Outrage in Australia than their cricket team not only cheated but planned to cheat.- Mike Haysman (@MikeHaysman) March 25, 2018
With Agency Inputs