Steven Smith has “stepped down” as captain of Rajasthan Royals for the 2018 IPL season, in the wake of his admission to orchestrating a plan to tamper with the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. India batsman Ajinkya Rahane will lead Royals, who are returning to the IPL this year after serving a two-year ban for corruption.
Both players had represented the now defunct Rising Pune Supergiant franchise in the 2017 season. Smith had been retained by the returning Royals franchise ahead of the 2018 IPL player auction, while Rahane was bought back for INR 4 crore (USD 625,000 approx) using a right-to-match card.
“The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricket world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel,” Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket at Royals, said. “Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Steve. Ajinkya Rahane has been an integral part of the Royals family for a long time now and he understands the culture and values of our team. We have absolutely no doubt that he will be a great leader of the Rajasthan Royals.”
Smith has already been banned for one Test and fined 100% of his match fee by the ICC for his role in the ball-tampering incident that occurred on the third day of the Newlands Test, and he was stood down as captain – along with David Warner as vice-captain – by Cricket Australia before the fourth day’s play began. CA took that decision in the face of mounting pressure at home, from the Australian government, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the public. The board appointed Tim Paine as caretaker captain for the remainder of the Cape Town Test – which Australia lost on the fourth day – and Smith and Warner took the field under the wicketkeeper’s leadership.
CA chief executive James Sutherland flew to South Africa on Monday to join the board’s Head of Integrity Iain Roy and team performance manager Pat Howard, who had already flown to Cape Town to launch an inquiry into the ball-tampering scandal.
More to follow …
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