Rajasthan Royals to wait and watch on Steve Smith

The IPL franchise has has made clear that it will have zero tolerance on whoever brings “disrepute to the game of cricket.”

Steve Smith was fined 100 percent of his match fee for the ongoing Cape Town Test and suspended for one match. File Photo: AP

Even before the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets underway, Rajasthan Royals finds itself in a spot of bother over Steve Smith.

After Cricket Australia removed Smith from captaincy for the remainder of the Cape Town Test following his involvement in ball-tampering, the ICC has suspended him for a Test and fined him all of his match fee. And in such a situation, Royals faces the tough question of whether to retain Smith as its skipper or get a new one.

Though the ICC’s decision is not as harsh as was expected, the franchise has a tough task in hand to decide whether to keep a sullied cricketer as its captain. The top bosses of the franchise called a meeting on Sunday to discuss the matter. While the franchise has decided to wait and watch, it has made clear that it will have zero tolerance on whoever brings “disrepute to the game of cricket.”

“We have been made aware of the controversy of ball tampering in the ongoing Australia - South Africa series and await further instructions from BCCI, before we make any announcement. We at Rajasthan Royals will not tolerate any actions that are unfair by definition and bring disrepute to the game of cricket. Our zero-tolerance policy applies to everyone in our team. Please bear with us,” Rajasthan Royals executive chairman, Ranjit Barthakur, stated.

Rahane most likely to lead

In case the franchise wants to appoint a controversy-free cricketer as its leader this season, it will, in all likelihood, have to zero in on Ajinkya Rahane. There is also a buzz in the cricketing circles that Rahane, who has been a loyal Royal, may finally be elevated as the leader. However, there been no word on it from the Royals camp. Sources, however, confirmed to Sportstar  that the India vice-captain is all set to don the captain's hat this season. "The franchise can't throw a player like Smith out, especially when the ICC has given just one Test suspension. May be, the franchise will decide to not keep him as the captain," the source pointed out. It could also be the case that Smith himself decides to step down.

No sacking

While it is learned that the franchise is concerned about the ball-tampering controversy and the possible impact it could have on the team, it is also trying to find out a smooth way to handle the sensitive issue involving one of its old warhorses, Smith. There were reports by some television channels that the franchise has sacked Smith, but the Royals officials confirmed that there's no truth to those reports. "Let me tell you, that's completely incorrect," a source said.

Read: Australia PM says ball tampering a shocking incident

The source hasn’t confirmed it, yet he hasn’t even ruled out a possibility of the franchise looking for a new skipper. And in that case, Royals does not have much of an option other than Rahane. With Ben Stokes being an accused for the bar brawl, the franchise — which returns to the IPL fold after two-year suspension — would, perhaps, not want to appoint a skipper who is caught in controversies.

One would, however, have to wait and watch.

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