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Australian cricket in turmoil over ball-tampering scandal
The sporting world is reacting with shock and outrage to revelations of Australia's premeditated attempt to cheat in the third Test against South Africa.
In a media conference after the third day’s play, Australia's Cameron Bancroft admitted he tampered with the ball during the day, with Australian captain Steve Smith saying that he knew of the plan in advance.
Television footage showed Bancroft take what he said was yellow tape out of his trouser pocket before rubbing the ball.
The 25-year-old said after play he had been charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball.
Smith said it was a "big mistake" but added he would not stand down, advising that the team's "leadership group" had spoken about it and "thought it was a way to get an advantage".
Both Bancroft and Smith apologised at the news conference.
Bancroft advised "I will deal with the damage that comes to my reputation as a consequence.
"I don't think I was coerced. I was nervous about it because there are hundreds of cameras around.
"Unfortunately I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I am accountable for my actions as well. I'm not proud of what has happened.
"I saw an opportunity to potentially use some tape and get some granules from the rough patches on the wicket and I guess try to change the ball condition.
"It didn't work. The umpires didn't change the ball. Once I was sighted on the screen having done that I panicked quite a lot and that obviously resulted in me shoving [the tape] down my trousers."
Smith added "we made a poor choice. We deeply regret our actions. Coaches weren't involved. It was purely the players in the leadership group.
"I can promise you it won't happen again. It's the first time this has happened.
"We will move on from this and hopefully learn something from it. I'm embarrassed. I feel for Cam. It's not what the Australian cricket team is about. I am incredibly sorry.
"It's a poor reflection on everyone in that dressing room and particularly the leaders in the group."
After footage of the incident was broadcast, a message appeared to be sent out to him on the field. He put the yellow item down the front of his trousers before being spoken to by on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth.
At that point he turned out his pockets, revealing only a black cloth.
The umpires did not change the ball, and images of the incident on the big screen resulted in some booing from spectators.
Australia legend Shane Warne tweeted he was "very disappointed with the pictures".
A range of cricketing commentators and former players have condemned those involved.
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew advised "Laws of cricket: 'The major responsibility for fair play rests with the captains...' Smith has admitted not merely cheating, but planning to cheat. Everything else in that ill-tempered series is irrelevant to this. By his own actions, Smith's position as captain is untenable."
Fomer Austrlian captain Michael Clarke was among the millions of Australians waking up on Sunday to headlines and news bulletins they could scarcely believable.
He tweeted "WHAT THE ........ HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO. Please tell me this is a bad dream.”
Legenday Australian bowler Shane Warne also took to twitter to state “Very disappointed with the pictures I saw on our coverage here in Cape Town. If proven the alleged ball tampering is what we all think it is - then I hope Steve Smith (Captain) & Darren Lehmann (Coach) do the press conference to clean this mess up !”
The incident is the latest twist in an ill-tempered four-match series in which several players have already been sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Earlier in the Test, Australia opener David Warner was confronted by a spectator as he returned to the dressing room after being dismissed.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann later criticised the "disgraceful" verbal abuse directed at his players by the South African crowd, and Cricket Australia sent a letter of complaint to Cricket South Africa.
Images: Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith being interviewed by the Cricket Network after yesterday's ball tampering (top) and the ball tampering as broadcast Fox Sports cameras (below).
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