David Warner has stepped down as captain of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad in the wake of his role in the ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test against South Africa. Steven Smith, who was also involved in the pre-meditated plan to tamper with the ball, had already resigned as captain of Rajasthan Royals on Monday.
"In light of recent events, David Warner has stepped down as captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad," K Shanmugam, the Sunrisers CEO said. "The new captain of the team will be announced shortly."
Warner has been part of Sunrisers since 2014, when he was bought for INR 5.5 crores (USD 846,000). In 2015, he was elevated to captaincy in place of Shikhar Dhawan and ended the season as the team's leading run-getter. In 2016, he made 848 runs, second-highest after Virat Kohli, as Sunrisers clinched their maiden IPL title. This year, he was among two players retained by Sunrisers ahead of the 2018 auction. His retention fee of INR 12 crore (USD 1.84 million) made him the highest paid Australian in the tournament along with Smith.
Warner is beginning to emerge as the central player in the ball-tampering episode that has rocked Australian cricket over the last five days. The incident took place during the afternoon session on day three at Newlands and was picked up on by TV cameras. A small, yellow object was seen in Australian fielder Cameron Bancroft's hands after he had worked on the ball, which he later revealed was adhesive tape with soil particles on it. He was also captured taking the tape from his pocket and placing it down his trousers.
The footage showed Bancroft rubbing the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers. He put the object down his pants after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to Lehmann over a walkie talkie. Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground.
The umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball or penalise the Australians five runs - the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball. When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers.
Smith and Bancroft owned up to the offence at the press conference after play on the third day, and while Warner was not initially at the forefront of the scandal, a view is emerging that he had hatched the idea to tamper the ball and delegated it to his opening partner Bancroft, with Smith's approval. A preliminary Cricket Australia investigation said that no other players or staff had knowledge of the plan. Smith and Warner were stood down as Australia's captain and vice-captain during the Newlands Test, and both players took the field on the fourth day under wicketkeeper Tim Paine's leadership.
Warner, Smith and Bancroft were sent home from South Africa by Cricket Australia, with the board CEO James Sutherland saying the forthcoming sanctions against them were likely to be "significant". The ICC had already suspended Smith - who was fined 100% of his match fee and given four demerit points - from the fourth Test against South Africa, while Bancroft was given three demerit points and fined 75% of his match fee. There was no ICC sanction against Warner.