Ball-tampering has always happened in cricket but it’s exceptionally difficult to prove. This time they have someone who has admitted his guilt – he’s a captain, the act was premeditated and, worst of all, he clearly coerced the most inexperienced player in his team to go out and do the dirty work for them.
Australian captain Steve Smith has been banned for one match and fined his entire match fee by the ICC for his part in the ball-tampering incident. He later said the team’s “leadership group” had a plan, carried out by Cameron Bancroft, to tamper with the ball to “get an advantage”. Smith will now miss the fourth and final Test of the series.
Bancroft was fined 75% of his match fee and got three demerit points.
The Australians lost 10 wickets in the final session of day four to slump to a massive 322 run loss as the batting collapsed in spectacular fashion.
Chasing a target of 430, they reached 47-0 at tea but were all out for 107. South African fast bowler Morne Morkel, who will retire from international cricket at the end of the series, took the final wicket to finish with 5-23 as the hosts took a 2-1 series lead.
All wasn’t doom and gloom for the Aussies though as Nathan Lyon brought up a significant moment to celebrate when he had Kagiso Rabada stumped to claim his 300th Test wicket. Lyon – just the sixth Australian to reach the milestone and the second spinner behind Shane Warne was given a healthy ovation from the patriotic crowd when he raised the ball to acknowledge the landmark.
The final Test of the ill-tempered series begins in Johannesburg on Friday.
South Africa go into the Test behind their second-largest victory in terms of runs over Australia, missing out on equaling the mark that was set in 1970 by just one run. With a 2-1 lead and one Test to play, they cannot lose the trophy they won in Australia in 2016, but will be determined to become the first Proteas side to beat Australia on home soil since international readmission.
Here is Our Super 8
A.B De Villiers
Wild Card – Dean Elgar
Who is your Super 8?