Disgraced players return home after cricket scandal

Australian cricketers caught at the centre of a ball tampering scandal will arrive home from South Africa today.     

Steve Smith and David Warner were stripped of their leadership positions and suspended for 12 months after an investigation by Cricket Australia.

Cameron Bancroft will return to Perth with a nine-month suspension for his involvement in the incident.   

The investigation found Warner organised the scheme to alter the condition of the ball and instructed Bancroft to carry out the plan.

Smith was found to have concealed evidence of the tampering while on the field.

The scandal has already led some sponsors to end their involvement with Cricket Australia.

In a statement, Cricket Australia chairman David Peever said he understood the anger of the Australian public. He said the punishment handed down was significant.

“We understand and share the anger of fans and the broader Australian community about the events that unfolded in Cape Town on Saturday,” he said.

“This issue goes beyond the technical nature of the offences and various codes of conduct. It is about integrity and reputation of Australian cricket and Australian sport.

“These are significant penalties for professional players and the Board does not impose them lightly.”

The Australian public has taken to social media and expressed anger towards the three players involved in the scandal. 

Former Australian cricketers Michael Clarke and Shane Warne defended the players after the backlash.

Mr Clarke told Channel 7 he felt sorry for Steve Smith and hoped the public could learn to forgive him.

“I do feel for Steve Smith. 100% he has made a major mistake and he and a lot of other people I think are going to have to suffer the consequences,” he said.

“That’s fair enough. But I think it’s important that we do over time forgive as well.”

International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson said the actions of Smith, Warner and Bancroft went against the spirit of the game and risked causing damage to the integrity of Australian cricket.

“The decision made by the leadership group of the Australian team to act in this way is clearly contrary to the spirit of the game, risks causing significant damage to the integrity of the match, the players and the sport itself and is therefore serious in nature,” he said.

“Winning is important but not at the expense of the spirit of the game which is intrinsic and precious to the sport of cricket.”

Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo said the scandal had damaged Australia’s sporting reputation.

“This does leave a stain on Australia’s reputation with respect to cricket and we need to be mindful of that,” he said.

“It’s very important that we move quickly to improve our standing again because these types of character taints unfortunately do tend to stick around.”

Mathew Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell will fly to Johannesburg in the next 24 hours to replace the suspended cricketers.