Australian Prime minister calls on Cricket Australia to remove Steve Smith as captain

Alex Broun 11:37 25/03/2018
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Malcolm Turnbull has called on Steve Smith to be removed as Australian captain.

No doubt besieged Aussie captain Steve Smith would not have had much sleep on Saturday night but on Sunday morning he will wake to the news that the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has personally called for him to be removed.

It’s an unprecedented step by the leader of the nation – not a noted sports fan – and it leaves no doubt that Smith’s position is now untenable after his admission of pre-meditated ball tampering during the third Test between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town.

“We all work up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” Turnbull told reporters at a news conference overnight.

“It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating.

“I’ve spoken with David Peever, the Chairman of Cricket Australia, a few moments ago and I’ve expressed to him very clearly and unequivocally my disappointment and my concern about the events in South Africa.

“It’s their responsibility to deal with it, but I have to say that (to) the whole nation, who holds those who wear the Baggy Green up on a pedestal, about as high as you can get in Australia this is a shocking disappointment.

“It’s wrong, and I look forward to Cricket Australia taking decisive action soon.”

A few hours before Turnbull’s comments Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland had sought to buy some time saying the governing body would investigate the incident but the PM’s frank words will put pressure on them to act swiftly.

Earlier the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair John Wylie, the ASC Board, and CEO Kate Palmer – called for strong action against the team.

“The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport,” it said in a statement. “The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country.

“Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball.

“This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.”

With Peever in transit home from South Africa, Sutherland has chosen not to travel to Cape Town himself, instead placing the head of integrity, Iain Roy, and CA’s high performance manager Pat Howard in charge of the investigation.

But whether that investigation will be given time now to run its course is highly doubtful.

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