In the aftermath of the ball-tampering controversy that jolted Australian cricket during their third Test of the ongoing four-match Test series against South Africa, Steve Smith has stepped down as the captain of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals. India's top-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been named Smith's replacement to lead the 2008 IPL winners in the 11th edition of the tournament. Zubin Bharucha, a Rajasthan official said, "The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricketing world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore, we have been in regular contact with Steve.”
Rajasthan Royals appoint @ajinkyarahane88 as the captain for #IPL2018— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) March 26, 2018
"The game is bigger than any individual and we hold this thought close to our heart."- Manoj Badale , the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals
Read more: https://t.co/qBQbgUFb2u pic.twitter.com/iy3sMVWlc1
"It's in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that he steps down as Captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions.”
Speaking about Rajasthan's new captain, Bharucha added, “Ajinkya Rahane has been an integral part of the Royals family for a long time now and he understands the culture and values of our team. We have absolutely no doubt that he will be a great leader of the Rajasthan Royals.”
“Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game. We agree with Steve’s decision to step down as captain, and we are fortunate to have such a capable successor with Ajinkya Rahane. It is important that all cricket fans retain a balanced perspective on the situation. What happened in South Africa was clearly wrong, especially given that it appears to have been pre-meditated. That said, this will be a difficult time for Steve as well, given how much he cares about the game.” said Manoj Badale, the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals
The Royals will be making a comeback in this year's IPL after they were suspended in 2015 for two years owing to betting allegations. They handed over the captaincy to Smith in February, following the mega IPL auction.
Smith was a part of the Rajasthan Royals in 2014 and 2015 and was the only player retained by the franchise in 2018.
The Australian skipper had led the Rising Pune Supergiant to the final of the IPL in 2017, where they lost to eventual champions Mumbai Indians.
ICC, fined Smith's 100 percent match fee and handed him a one-Test ban, while, Cameron Bancroft got a 75 percent fine and three demerit points for ball-tampering incident.
On Saturday, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera, using yellow sticky tape laden with dirt to alter the condition of the ball.
Smith and Bancroft fronted the press, and in the most stunning revelation, admitted to cheating in an explosive press conference but the former refused to step down as captain.
"I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wicket and try to change the ball condition," Bancroft said.
"It didn't work; the umpires didn't change the ball. But once I was sighted on the screens and having done that, that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers," he added.
"It was a pre-planned move concocted by the Australian leadership group over lunch", Smith admitted.
"I'm not proud of what's happened. It's not within the spirit of the game," Smith said.
"My integrity, the team's integrity, the leadership group's integrity has come into question and rightly so", he added.
There have been calls for Smith to step down or be sacked as Australia skipper after he admitted to being the mastermind of the ball-tampering saga.
Consequently, Smith and David Warner stood down as captain and vice-captain of the Australian cricket team for the third Test, the Australian cricket board confirmed on Sunday.