Proteas

'Embarrassed' Smith won't stand down as captain

Steve Smith owns up to having been a part of a ball tampering disgrace at Newlands (Gallo).
Steve Smith owns up to having been a part of a ball tampering disgrace at Newlands (Gallo).

Cape Town - Steve Smith will not stand down as Australian captain despite having admitted to giving the go-ahead to the ball tampering saga that has rocked Newlands.

The incident is the latest, yet easily the most serious, to have marred the ongoing Test series between South Africa and Australia. 

With around 20 minutes to go before tea on Saturday, replays on the big screen showed Australian opener Cameron Bancroft putting a foreign object that he had used on the ball into his pants. 

Upon seeing the replays, umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingwirth confronted Bancroft, who tried to convince them that he had done nothing wrong. 

But, in an explosive press conference at the end of the day's play, Bancroft admitted to ball tampering while Smith revealed that he was part of the plans to execute the illegal tactic. 

It will go down as one of the darkest moments in Australian cricket history, but it is not enough to force Smith into standing down as captain.

"I won’t be considering stepping down," he said at the press conference.

"I still think I’m the right person for the job.

"Obviously today was a big mistake on my behalf and the leadership group’s behalf as well. I take responsibility as the captain and I need to take control of the ship.

"It’s something I’m not proud of and hopefully I can learn from this and come back strong. I am embarrassed to be sitting here and talking about this."

After David Warner's confrontation with Quinton de Kock in Durban, Kagiso Rabada's shoulder bump into Smith in Port Elizabeth and Australian coach Darren Lehmann's labelling of the South African cricket public as "disgraceful", this is the latest of a series of unsavoury moments in the series.

The fact that South Africa were 294 runs ahead of Australia with five second innings wickets in hand at the end of the day was not even mentioned in the Australian press conference.

"We’re in the middle of such a great series and for something like this to overshadow the great cricket that’s been played and not have a single cricket question in here … that’s not what I’m about and not what the team is about," Smith said.

"We’ll move past this. It’s a big error in judgement."

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