Cricketers step down over ball-tamper row

Smith (right) and Warner will carry on playing under acting captain Tim Paine

Australia captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have stepped down from their positions for the rest of the third Test against South Africa a day after a ball tampering incident.

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.

Tim Paine will be captain for the rest of the match, although Smith and Warner will continue to play.

The match is into its fourth day.

“This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands,” said Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland.

“Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met.

“All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority,”

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen gives his view on the positions of Australia coach Darren Lehmann and his assistant David Saker

The ball-tampering incident took place on the third day of the third Test in Cape Town – escalating the tension around what has been an ill-tempered four-match series, which is level at 1-1.

Television footage showed Bancroft take what he said was yellow tape out of his trouser pocket before rubbing the ball.

The 25-year-old revealed he had been charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) with attempting to change the condition of the ball, which is prohibited by Law 41.3