JOHANNESBURG, March 28: Australia cricket captain Steve Smith has been banned from playing for his country for 12 months for his role in a ball tampering plot in the Test series in South Africa.
Smith is leaving the tour of South Africa in disgrace after the ban, announced Wednesday, for his part in a plot to cheat in the third Test.
Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft conspired to cheat by illegally changing the condition of the ball by rubbing it with a piece of yellow adhesive tape and some dirt.
Warner and Bancroft were also expected to receive lengthy bans and have also been expelled from the team. Cricket Australia said the trio will return home on Wednesday.
The Cricket Australia punishment for Smith followed an internal investigation into the extent of the cheating plot in South Africa. The decision on Smith had not yet been officially announced by CA but Smith confirmed the 12-month ban to The Associated Press and a small group of Australian reporters at the team hotel
The ban will include all top-level cricket in Australia for the next year.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine will take over as captain for the final Test in South Africa.
Smith, wearing a white T-shirt and dark baseball cap, hugged Paine as he prepared to leave the team hotel in Johannesburg to fly home.
Warner, the pugnacious 31-year-old opening batsman, was expected to be banned for 12 months as well, meaning his international career may be over. Bancroft, the young player tasked to do the on-field tampering in Cape Town, was reportedly set to be given a nine-month ban. AP