Cricketer 'must go' over ball-tamper row

Smith first captained Australia in December 2014, and took the role full-time when Michael Clarke retired after the 2015 Ashes in England

Australia captain Steve Smith must be immediately removed from his role over the ball-tampering row in South Africa, an Australian government agency says.

Smith said on Saturday that the team’s “leadership group” had spoken about a plan to tamper with the ball, carried out by batsman Cameron Bancroft.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has now called for Smith “to be stood down immediately, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan”.

The ASC statement added: “This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation. The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport. The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country.”

Earlier, Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive officer James Sutherland announced that such an investigation would now take place – with CA’s head of integrity Iain Roy and head of team performance Pat Howard travelling to South Africa to “gather relevant information” – but that Smith would remain as skipper for now.

Bancroft has been charged by the International Cricket Council with attempting to change the condition of the ball – which is prohibited by Law 41.3.