IPL 2018: Rahane replaces Smith as RR captain; SRH awaits probe on Warner

David Warner of Australia talks to the umpire on the fourth day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday
In the aftermath of the recent ball-tampering controversy which forced Australia skipper Steve Smith to step down, his IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals on Monday also stripped Smith of the captaincy and named Ajinkya Rahane to lead the side in the upcoming Indian Premier League.

The Rajasthan Royals, returning to the IPL fold after serving a two-year ban on charges of corruption, had on Sunday sought time to take a final call ahead of the start of the 11th edition of the cash-rich league.

The decision was on expected lines the moment Cricket Australia indicated that harsher penalty was on cards for Smith and Co for their role in an episode that has shaken Australian sporting fraternity.

"Steve believes given the current circumstances '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.' He would like to extend his gratitude to the BCCI officials and all the fans in India for their constant support," Rajasthan Royals' head of cricket Zubin Bharucha was quoted as saying in a media release.

The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricketing world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore, we have been in regular contact with Steve, he added.

Rajasthan Royals' mentor and former skipper Shane Warne was in Cape Town and it is understood that Warne must have also had a chat with the Australian captain.

What is ball tampering?

Ball tampering is the unlawful alteration of the surface or seam of a ball on the field to affect its motion when bowled.

Smith on Saturday admitted to masterminding a premeditated plan to indulge in ball-tampering, which, among others, prompted even Australia's prime minister to react and a long-retired captain to mull a comeback. Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the incident a "shocking disappointment", while Michael Clarke kept open the possibility of returning as the Australia cricket team's captain. 

On the third day of the Cape Town Test on Saturday, television footage showed Smith's teammate Bancroft, 25, taking a yellow object (sandpaper to scruff up one side of the ball to aid reverse swing) out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session and appearing to rub it on the ball before putting the material into his trousers in an attempt to hide it. 

In more upsetting news for cricket fans down under, Australian cricket's day of shame ended on Sunday in a crushing 322-run defeat by South Africa on the fourth day of the third Test match at Newlands, Cape Town. 

Steve Smith and David Warner's troubles might just be beginning, with the ball-tampering controversy hanging over their heads. Under Cricket Australia's code of behaviour, Smith and Warner could face punishment ranging up to a life ban for cheating, reported ESPNcricinfo.

The IPL starts on April 7 with Mumbai Indians facing Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai. Rajasthan Royals will launch their season with an away fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 9 followed by their first home game in Jaipur on April 11 where they will host Delhi Daredevils at Sawai Mansingh stadium.

Here are the top 10 developments in the Steve Smith ball-tampering controversy: 

1) David Warner 'not allowed to play': David Warner has been axed for the final Test series between Australia and South Africa in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, according to media reports. 

This comes after Steve Smith has already banned for the fourth Test in Johannesburg. The pair had earlier been stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy during the controversial third Test match. 

Cricket Australia may ban Steve Smith for one year and David Warner for six months. It will also decide whether Warner is the chief conspirator in the ball-tampering row or not as he was the team's primary ball manager in recent times.The official announcement is expected to come in the next 48 hours.

Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor VVS Laxman said the franchise would wait for Cricket Australia's decision on the player, who finds himself embroiled in a ball-tampering controversy.

"It's very unfortunate what has happened in the Cape Town Test. As far as Sunrisers is concerned, it's too early for us to comment. Because, it was, just which has happened day before yesterday. We will wait for decision of Cricket Australia," Laxman said.

2) Steve Smith steps down as Rajasthan Royals captainSteve Smith today decided to step down from Rajasthan Royals' captaincy in the wake of the of severe backlash he has faced after admitting to ball tampering during the third Test against South Africa.

The decision was on expected lines the moment Cricket Australia indicated that harsher penalty was on cards for Smith and Co for their role in an episode that has shaken Australian sporting fraternity.

"The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricketing world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore, we have been in regular contact with Smith," Rajasthan Royals' head of cricket Zubin Bharucha.

"It's in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that Smith steps down as captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions," he added.

3) Ajinkya Rahane replaces Steve Smith: Right-hand Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane will replace Steve Smith in the upcoming season of the IPL. "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," said Zubin Bharucha.

Welcoming Rahane as the captain of the team, Ranjit Barthakur, executive Chairman, Rajasthan Royals, said: "Ajinkya Rahane has stepped up as a leader whenever he has been given the opportunity, be it for 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," added Barthakur.

Rajasthan Royals appoint @ajinkyarahane88 as the captain for #IPL2018

“The game is bigger than any individual and we hold this thought close to our heart.”- Manoj Badale , the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals

Read more: https://t.co/qBQbgUFb2u pic.twitter.com/iy3sMVWlc1

— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) March 26, 2018

Co-owner Manoj Badale said: "Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game. 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. said Manoj Badale, the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals.

4) Ashish Nehra sad over Steve Smith ball tamperingFormer India fast bowler Ashish Nehra concedes that Steve Smith was wrong in orchestrating ball-tampering but it will be sad if the under-fire Australian captain is barred from participating in IPL 2018. 

"I know what they did was wrong. But if we think that this is the first time that ball tampering is happening, then that is also wrong. But the best part is they admitted their mistake and ICC has sanctioned them. Obviously, we don't know what Cricket Australia will do but if they don't play, it will be a huge setback for Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad. They are quality players and it will be sad if they miss out on IPL," Nehra said, according to news agency PTI

"You have to give them [Smith and David Warner] credit that they accepted to ball-tampering and stood down from captaincy and vice-captaincy," the left-arm pacer added.

Life ban will be really harsh for them. Not just for them, but for any player. You have to give them credit that they admitted their mistake. I think to step down from the captaincy & one test match ban is enough for both the players: Ashish Nehra #BallTampering #Australia pic.twitter.com/q3UGHiZyLQ

— ANI (@ANI) March 26, 2018

When asked whether bowlers should get some leeway as the reverse swing is a difficult art, he gave an inimitable reply.

"Yes, it's an art but then stealing is also an art. Would you put a thief in jail or praise him. Reverse swing is an art but ball tampering is dishonesty. And there are ways to prepare a ball for reverse swing without tampering," Nehra, who is one of India's finest exponents of swing bowling, said.

"Also this is a phenomena, you will find mainly in Test cricket as in T20 and ODIs, it's difficult to reverse the white ball. In ODIs, two new white balls are used, so chances are really less. It's only in Test cricket which is played for a considerable amount of time that teams want their bowlers to try reverse swing.

"Now conditions also play a huge role in reverse swing. If conditions are dry and pitch abrasive, the ball will in any case reverse. For example at the Feroz Shah Kotla, even a Ranji team will get the SG Test to reverse within 10 overs," Nehra explained.

5) Steve Smith steps down as Australian cricket team's captain: Caught up in the ball-tampering controversy, Steven Smith stepped down as the Australian cricket team's captain for the remainder of the ongoing third Test against South Africa. 

The actions of the Australian team's leadership in the ball-tampering controversy would be investigated, said Cricket Australia. Subsequently, the Australian government asked the board to remove Smith as captain. Australian Prime Minister Turnbull called the incident a "shocking disappointment". 

"It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating," he said.

After he owned up to the ball-tampering conspiracy in South Africa, the ICC slapped Smith with a one-match suspension and fined his entire match fee. "ICC chief executive David Richardson laid the charge against Smith under to Article 2.2.1 of the ICC Code of Conduct for players and player support personnel which prohibits 'all types of conduct of a serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game'," the ICC said in a statement. 

"Smith accepted the charge and the proposed sanction of two suspension points which equates to a ban for the next Test match and which will see four demerit points added to his record," added the statement. 

6) David Warner also steps down: On the back of the ongoing ball-tampering controversy, Smith's deputy David Warner also stepped down as vice-captain. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine acted as captain at Newlands, with both Smith and Warner taking the field on Sunday.  

"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," said Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, adding, "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," he added. 

ALSO READ: Ball-tampering scandal: Steve Smith handed one match suspension

 Australian media slams cricket team
Australia's cricketers have heaped disgrace and humiliation on the country, the local press said on Monday in blasting the "rotten" team culture under the current leadership.

Cricket is considered the national sport in Australia and the stunning developments have not gone down well.

"Smith's Shame," screamed The Australian broadsheet on its front page, in remarks echoed by other media.

"The cheating has hurt Australian cricket from helmet to boot," it said in a commentary calling for Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland to stand down.

"In charge of the game for nearly two decades, Sutherland has done little to change the rotten culture of the sport at its most senior level."

In the same theme, the newspaper's cricket writer Peter Lalor asked: "Where were the adults in the room?

"The answer to the question is, sadly, that these are the adults. Or the nearest thing to them that the game can summon."

Television footage showed Smith's teammate Cameron Bancroft taking a yellow object out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session on Saturday and appearing to rub it on the ball.

8) Bancroft fined 75% of his match fee: Australia's Cameron Bancroft has been fined 75 per cent of his match fee and handed three demerit points for breaching Level 2 of the ICC code of conduct. The ball-tampering controversy erupted after Television footage showed Bancroft rubbing the ball and then seemingly putting an object back in his pocket.     

9) Harbhajan Singh accuses ICC of discrimination: Spinner Harbhajan Singh took to Twitter to react to the ball-tampering controversy, alleging discrimination on part of the ICC. Singh pointed out that there was no ban for Bancroft "with all the evidences", whereas six Indian players were "banned for excessive appealing in South Africa in 2001 without any evidence".  

The 'Turbanator' also called out "Sydney 2008", saying that while he was "not found guilty", he was banned for three matches. "Different people, different rules," said Singh. 

wow @ICC wow. Great treatment nd FairPlay. No ban for Bancroft with all the evidences whereas 6 of us were banned for excessive appealing in South Africa 2001 without any evidence and Remember Sydney 2008? Not found guilty and banned for 3 matches.different people different rules

— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) March 25, 2018

10) The ball-tampering controversy, as it happened: Australia's Cameron Bancroft was caught on cameras using what is believed to be a tape before attempting to hide the object down the front of his pants, moments before the umpires seemingly inquired about the contents of his pockets on the third day of the Cape Town Test on Saturday. Television footage later showed Bancroft rubbing the ball and then seemingly putting an object back in his pocket. 

As soon as the incident was shown on the giant screen, the player was questioned in the presence of his captain Steve Smith by the two on-field umpires Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong. The on-field officials along with third umpire Ian Gould and fourth umpire Allahudien Palekar later charged Bancroft.

The umpires inspected the ball at that time and elected not to replace the ball and award a five-run penalty as they could not see any marks on the ball that suggested that its condition had been changed as a direct result of Bancroft's actions.

Smith and Bancroft admitted to the offence after play on the day, and Bancroft was charged by the ICC for altering the condition of the ball.

A contrite Smith and Bancroft later addressed a press conference, admitting to ball-tampering and apologised for their actions.

However, the uninitiated might ask what is ball tampering in the first place? In cricket, ball tampering refers to an action in which a player illegally alters the condition of the ball. Ball tampering's primary motivation is to interfere with the aerodynamics of the ball. 

Australia's day ends in 322-run rout: In more bad news for Australian cricketing fans after the ball-tampering controversy, Australian cricket's day of shame ended in a crushing 322-run defeat by South Africa on the fourth day of the third Test at Newlands on Sunday. 

The off-field issues affected Australia's on-field performance. Set an unlikely 430 to win, Australia were bowled out for a paltry 107. South Africa, for their part, rode on superb bowling by star pacer Morne Morkel, who took five wickets for 23 run, to claim a 322-run victory. 


With agency inputs

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