Aussies admit ball-tampering versus South Africa

CAPE TOWN – Australia captain Steve Smith says he is embarrassed and takes responsibility for the actions of his side after they were charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball in the third test against South Africa on Saturday, but he will not be stepping down as skipper.

Smith detailed an orchestrated effort from the team’s “leadership group” to use sticky tape to pick up hard granules from the pitch and rub these against the ball to try to alter its condition and get it to swing.

Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, 25, the most junior member in the side, was the player tasked with implementing the plan and he has been charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which could lead to a one-match ban and a 100 percent fine of his match fee.

“I’m embarrassed, the boys in the shed are embarrassed and I feel for Cam as well,” Smith told reporters.

“It is not what we want to see in the game, it’s not what the Australian cricket team is about. Being the leader of the team I am incredibly sorry for trying to bring the game into disrepute like we did today.”

A remorseful Bancroft admitted he was nervous at taking on his role in the scam and panicked when he realised that cameras in the stadium had caught him in the act, placing the tape in his underwear to keep it out of the gaze of the umpires.

“I guess once I was sighted on the (TV) screens, that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers,” Bancroft said. “I am not proud of what has happened. I have to live with the consequences. I will do my best.”

South Africa opened up a potentially match-winning lead over Australia on day three of the third Test on Saturday.

AB de Villiers made a patient, unbeaten half-century as South Africa closed on 238 for five in their second innings at Newlands, extending their advantage to 294 runs.

De Villiers is not out on 51 from 103 balls and will resume on the fourth morning with the more attacking Quinton de Kock, who had bagged 29 from 33 balls.

De Villiers is known for his swashbuckling style.

But in the face of some excellent seam bowling from the tourists, chose to accumulate runs and ensure South Africa did not suffer a batting collapse similar to their first innings capitulation.

Opener Aiden Markram’s 84 had earlier included a mixture of fine stroke-play and luck.

He was dropped twice in his innings by Usman Khawaja before he had scored and again by Australia captain Steve Smith when he was on 59.

He was out three minutes before the tea interval though when he chipped a Mitchell Starc delivery to Pat Cummins at mid-on.

Dean Elgar (14), who carried his bat for an unbeaten 141 in the first innings, could not repeat that feat as he was the first batsman out, edging Cummins (2-47) to Steve Smith at second slip.

Hashim Amla (31) then drove Cummins to Bancroft at short mid-wicket, while Faf du Plessis’ run of low scores continued as he was trapped leg before wicket by Nathan Lyon for 20.

Temba Bavuma (5) lasted just four balls before he edged to substitute fielder Peter Handscomb at second slip to give Josh Hazlewood his first wicket of the innings.

De Villiers and De Kock took South Africa to the close with an unbeaten stand of 37 for the sixth wicket.