Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft accept ball-tampering sanctions
Former Australia captain Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft will not challenge their bans from international and domestic cricket, and their 12-month ban from leadership positions thereafter, imposed by Cricket Australia for their role in the ball-tampering incident in the Cape Town Test against South Africa.
"I would give anything to have this behind me and be back representing my country," Smith said on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. "But I meant what I said about taking full responsibility as captain of the team. I won't be challenging the sanctions. They've been imposed by CA to send a strong message and I have accepted them."
Smith's acceptance of his 12-month ban means that he will be able to return to top-flight cricket only around April 2019, about two months before the World Cup is due to begin in England.
Shortly after Smith's tweet, Bancroft followed suit, saying he too had accepted his nine-month ban. "Today I lodged the paperwork with Cricket Australia and will be accepting the sanction handed down," he said on Twitter. "I would love to put this behind me and will do whatever it takes to earn back the trust of the Australian public. Thank you to all those who have sent messages of support.
The other banned player David Warner and has not yet announced whether he too would accept his sanction, or take the matter to a hearing. Warner was banned from international and domestic cricket for 12 months and also banned from holding leadership positions in Australian cricket for life.
A day before Smith and Bancroft said they would not be challenging the sanctions, the Australian Cricketers' Association had said the punishments were "disproportionate" to the gravity of the offence - ball-tampering - and appealed to CA to reduce them.
The ball-tampering controversy that erupted on the third day of the Newlands Test, when Bancroft was caught on camera rubbing the ball with sandpaper, also led to Australia's coach Darren Lehmann resigning at the end of the Test series in South Africa. In the days after the incident, a CA investigation claimed that Warner had come up with the idea and got Bancroft to tamper with the ball, while Smith was in knowledge of the plan and did not prevent it.
Even before CA's investigation was complete, following the uproar from the public and the government in Australia, the board had stood down Smith and Warner as captain and vice-captain ahead of the fourth day of the Cape Town Test. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was appointed captain, and Smith and Warner took the field under him as Australia lost the Test that day.
The three players involved were sent home ahead of the final Test in Johannesburg, but before they left South Africa, CA chief executive James Sutherland informed them of their sanctions. Smith and Bancroft held emotional press conferences during which they expressed extreme remorse as soon as they touched down in Sydney and Perth respectively on March 29. Warner held his press conference on March 31 and also broke down while expressing regret over his conduct in South Africa.