Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia skipper Steve Smith has stepped down as captain of the Rajasthan Royals after being involved in a ball tampering scandal.
With Smith resigning from the leadership role just over a week prior to the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Royals have confirmed that Ajinkya Rahane will lead the franchise.
Smith and Australia opener Cameron Bancroft conceded that they had attempted to alter the condition of the ball on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Smith was subsequently banned for one Test and fined 100 percent of his match fee, while Bancroft was docked 75 percent of his match fee and handed three demerit points.
The Royals’ Head of Cricket, Zubin Bharucha was quoted by the franchise’s website as saying: “The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricket world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Steve.”
Bharucha added that given the situation Smith finds himself in, “it’s in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that he steps down as Captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions”.
Explaining why Rahane had been chosen to succeed Smith, Bharucha said: “Ajinkya Rahane has been an integral part of the Royals family for a long time now and he understands the culture and values of our team. We have absolutely no doubt that he will be a great leader of the Rajasthan Royals.”
Royals co-owner Manoj Badale admitted that while it is disappointing for Smith to have to step down under these circumstances, he is pleased that the team have someone of Rahane’s calibre to take over.
“Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game,” he said. “We agree with Steve’s decision to step down as captain, and we are fortunate to have such a capable successor with Ajinkya Rahane.
“It is important that all cricket fans retain a balanced perspective on the situation. What happened in South Africa was clearly wrong, especially given that it appears to have been pre-meditated. That said, this will be a difficult time for Steve as well, given how much he cares about the game.”
Executive Chairman Ranjit Barthakur added: “Ajinkya Rahane has stepped up as a leader whenever he has been given the opportunity, be it for Team India or at Rajasthan Royals. We consider him the right candidate to lead the side this crucial season when the team is coming back to the IPL after two years. We wish him all the best.
“Governance and security are the prime policies that we as a franchise have taken into consideration and hence Rajasthan Royals’ management is working towards deploying the best of governing and security methodologies to deliver the very best for the game of cricket in Jaipur.”
The Royals will begin their IPL campaign against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 9.