Sutherland: Cricket Australia to launch investigation into ball tampering incident

James Sutherland Cricket Australia investigation ball tampering Cameron Bancroft Steve Smith South Africa Australia 3rd Test Day 3 Cape Town cricket

James Sutherland: “That isn’t the end of it and can’t be the end of it”

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Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has confirmed that the board will conduct an investigation into the ball tampering incident that shocked the cricketing community on Saturday.

During the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town, Australia opener Cameron Bancroft was caught taking a mysterious yellow paper-like item out of his pocket and putting it down his trousers.

This sparked accusations of ball tampering, and both Bancroft and Australia captain Steve Smith admitted that they had in fact attempted to alter the condition of the ball.

Smith added that Australia’s leadership group spoke about tampering with the ball during the lunch break. Bancroft was subsequently seen stuffing the item down his trousers about 20 minutes before the tea interval.

Sutherland revealed that Cricket Australia’s head of integrity, Iain Roy, and team performance manager Pat Howard will oversee the probe.

“This morning [Australian cricket fans] have every reason to wake up and not be proud of the Australian team. It’s a sad day for Australian cricket,” Sutherland said in Melbourne as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “Activities on the field yesterday in Cape Town are neither within the Laws of the game or within the spirit of the game. For us at Cricket Australia that’s extremely disappointing but more importantly it’s extremely disappointing for Australian cricket fans.

“That isn’t the end of it and can’t be the end of it. We have a responsibility to take this further and to understand more about the issue. We will over the next couple of days get a deep understanding of what happened and why and to that end I’ve asked our head of integrity Iain Roy to travel to South Africa today, Pat Howard will also go with him. Iain’s brief will be to gather the relevant information we need to understand the matter better.

“I understand that isn’t the fullness of response that everyone is looking for right now but you will appreciate there is an element of process that needs to be undertaken. It is being dealt with as a matter of urgency and seriousness. It will be dealt with promptly.”

Sutherland added that he has yet to speak to Smith, who has made it clear that he won’t step down as captain.

“I haven’t spoken to Steve Smith… but he will know,” Sutherland said. “In recent times I’ve had the need to speak to Steve about the behaviour of the team.

“I have very strong views on the responsibility of the Australian team and no one will be under any illusions to what I think about this.

“We are extremely disappointed and shocked to what we woke up to this morning and we are dealing with this issue with the utmost urgency and seriousness. Steve Smith is currently the captain of the Australian team. We are working through a process and once we have a clearer picture of the facts then we’ll be able to make further comment.

“Our responsibility right now is to understand the facts and respond accordingly. I want to reiterate that we are dealing with this matter with appropriate urgency. I said right from the outset that I am shocked and extremely disappointed. This is a very sad day. I’m not happy about this at all.”

While match referee Andy Pycroft has already informed the Australian team that a ball tampering charge will be brought against Bancroft, Sutherland confirmed that additional action will be taken against those involved.

“We need someone to go over there and talk to the relevant people and understand the detail and then we’ll make appropriate decisions on the next steps,” Sutherland said. “We are in the middle of a game and that game needs to conclude but in course of next couple of days we’ll get to the bottom of this.

“I’m not going to speculate on who is involved. We have to understand from the action of the umpires and the press conference. But we need to have those discussions.”

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