Proteas

Things could get worse for Smith after 'horrible 24 hours'

Steve Smith (Gallo)
Steve Smith (Gallo)

Cape Town - An independent investigation into the ball tampering incident at Newlands could spell even more trouble for Steve Smith.

Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed on Sunday that Iain Roy, who heads up the organisation's integrity unit, was on his way to South Africa to conduct the investigation.

He will then give his findings to CA, who can then charge whoever was involved in the ball tampering conversation between senior players at lunch on day three. 

The 28-year-old Smith has had a rough couple of days. 

On Saturday evening, at the end of the third day's play, Smith addressed media and admitted that he had conspired, along with other members of the team's leadership group, to come up with an intricate plan to illegally tamper with the ball to aid reverse swing. 

Cameron Bancroft, the second youngest player in the team, was the man tasked with doing the dirty work and roughing the ball up with pieces of the wicket attached to a sticky piece of tape. 

Bancroft was caught in the act on the stadium big screen, and since then the wheels have been falling off for the Aussies at a rapid rate. 

Following his dramatic confession on Saturday, Smith stepped down as captain for the remainder of the Test while vice-captain David Warner did the same. 

The ICC then moved swiftly to ban Smith for one Test match while Bancroft was given three demerit points. 

The backlash from Australia was even more brutal with former cricketers and government bodies calling for Smith to be permanently sacked. 

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull referred to the incident as a "shocking disappointment". 

Smith said on Saturday that he would not be stepping down as captain, but at this stage it looks like that decision could be out of his hands. 

Tim Paine, meanwhile, was given the unenviable task of replacing Smith as captain on Sunday as the Australians were smashed by 322 runs to go 2-1 down in the series.

"It's not the circumstances that anyone would like to be sitting in," he said of his first Test captaincy experience.

"A really bizarre, strange, horrible 24 hours.

"It was extremely difficult."

Paine would not comment on the investigation itself, but he seemed to think that Australia would lose more than just Smith for the Wanderers Test. 

"It's a difficult situation that some guys are going to get an opportunity from, so that's trying to hold onto the one positive," he said.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen and I don't think anyone is."

Paine said that there had been no team meeting on Saturday night following the explosive press conference, but he did say that both Smith and Bancroft were going through a difficult time.

"Not great, no doubt about that. It's been a horrible 24 hours. They're struggling, probably from the reality and enormity of what's happened," he said.

"I don't think all would have expected this to be as big as it has been, particularly the fallout that we've seen from back home.

"Going forward it is something we can learn from."

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