Weekly Digest: Australia’s cricket crisis, Soumyajit’s suspension

It was a controversy-laden week in the world of sport.

Steve Smith (first from right) and Cameron Bancroft (second from right) admitted to ball tampering “to gain advantage” in the third Test.   -  Getty Images

Cricket

Australia captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft sensationally admitted to ball-tampering during the third Test against South Africa on Saturday, plunging cricket into potentially its greatest crisis. Bancroft was caught on television cameras appearing to rub a yellow object on the ball, and later said: “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want to be here (in the press conference) because I want to be accountable for my actions.” Smith added: “The leadership group knew about it.”

Steve Smith has received a one-match ban from the ICC after the Australia skipper admitted he was "party to a decision" to tamper with the ball during the third Test with South Africa. On Sunday, Smith and David Warner stood down from their roles as captain and vice-captain for the remainder of the Cape Town Test, after the former had revealed Australia's "leadership group" had devised a plan to manipulate the condition of the ball. Cameron Bancroft, who was caught on camera rubbing the ball with yellow tape, has received three demerit points as a result of his actions and been fined 75 per cent of his match fee.

A day after Australia skipper Steve Smith and team-mate Cameron Bancroft publicly admitted to ball-tampering charges during the third Test against South Africa, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) on Sunday called for Smith to be stripped of the captaincy. Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in on the incident on Sunday, saying it “beggars belief” that role models such as Australian cricketers were “engaged in cheating like this.”

David Warner appeared to become embroiled in a verbal spat with a spectator as the Australia batsman left the field having been dismissed by Kagiso Rabada on the second day’s play at Cape Town. Australia head coach Darren Lehmann slammed the "disgraceful" behaviour of some spectators in Cape Town after David Warner was involved in a heated exchange on day two of the third Test.

Kagiso Rabada was free to play in the remainder of South Africa's series with Australia after the ICC deemed him "not guilty of the charge of making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact" with Steve Smith in the second Test.

With a five-wicket defeat of Ireland in the Super Six stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers on Friday, Afghanistan booked its spot in the World Cup. It completed a remarkable turnaround after a stuttering start to its campaign in the tournament, narrowly making it to the Super Sixes before inching its way up the table and gaining the big prize alongside West Indies.

The team celebrated its feat by winning the final of the tourney against West Indies two days later. Teenager Rashid Khan became the fastest bowler to 100 one-day international wickets as he helped Afghanistan win the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier with a comfortable seven-wicket success.

After being cleared by an internal probe into allegations of fixing claimes, pace bowler Mohammed Shami has been awarded a Grade B contract for 2017-18 by the Supreme Court of India-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). Shami's contract was withheld by CoA on March 7 since his wife had then filed a complaint against him for alleged domestic violence and adultery.

The Kerala Cricket Association's decision to host an India-West Indies ODI in Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in November drew widespread criticism from the sporting fraternity.

Shami has escaped with minor injuries after being involved in a road accident while travelling from Dehradun to New Delhi. Shami, who is in the Delhi Daredevils IPL team, was returning to New Delhi from Dehradun in a car on Saturday when it collided with a truck. He sustained minor injuries and got a few stitches on his head. He is currently recuperating in Dehradun. He is out of danger.

England were incredibly bundled out for 58 by New Zealand after just 20.4 overs on Day One of the first Test at Eden Park as they posted their lowest Test score in 130 years on Thursday. Kiwi paceman Trent Boult was unplayable with the swinging pink ball in Auckland, taking a career-best six wickets for just 32 runs as England recorded their lowest score since managing just 53 against Australia in 1888.

Some of the former members and the office bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) met in New Delhi on Saturday for an informal meeting to discuss the way the cricketing affairs are being run by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA).

England defeated Australia by eight wickets in the second match of the Twenty20 tri-series in Mumbai. In the first match, Australia defeated host India.

Kevin Pietersen has confirmed his retirement at the age of 37, citing fitness concerns among his reasons for walking away from cricket. Pietersen appeared to announce he was quitting the sport with a social media post on Friday that read: "BOOTS UP! Thank you!"

The Kerala Cricket Association will be writing to the BCCI that it would like to have some other match in Thiruvananthapuram early next year instead of the November 1 India-West Indies One-Day International that has been allotted to it.

India captain Virat Kohli has been granted permission by the Board to play three county matches for Surrey in June before the commencement of the tour to England. Kohli had approached the Board with his request during the recent tour to South Africa.

For the second time since March 1, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary has refused to sign the appointment letter of “General Manager, Marketing, Communications and Digital.” The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has cleared the appointment of Priya Gupta for the said post.

Triumph Knights’ Suryakumar Yadav took the calculated gamble of batting as low as No. 7. It paid off as he delivered a captain’s knock to propel his team to a formidable 182 — rescuing his side from 34 for 5 — and eventually, the first T20 Mumbai League title with a three-run win over Shivaji Park Lions at the Wankhede Stadium.

Football

Germany and Spain played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Dusseldorf as the two European giants prepare for the World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp double denied Mohamed Salah and Egypt victory as Portugal instead snatched a dramatic 2-1 friendly win in Zurich.

Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini ensured Lionel Messi's absence was not keenly felt as they hit the target in Argentina's 2-0 friendly win over Italy.

Colombia fought from 2-0 down to beat France 3-2 in Friday's friendly match in Paris, with Juan Quintero netting the winner from a controversial late penalty.

Barcelona stars Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho were on the scoresheet as Brazil cruised past Russia 3-0 in an international friendly on Friday.

Usain Bolt scored a superb header and showed off some slick passing skills as he completed his second session with Borussia Dortmund on Friday in front a packed crowd at their Strobelallee Training Centre.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contract was terminated by Manchester United and the Swede has joined MLS side LA Galaxy.

Tennis

Thanasi Kokkinakis produced the performance of his life to send top seed Roger Federer tumbling out of the Miami Open in round two and end the Swiss' time at the top of the world ranking.

Agnieszka Radwanska blew the Miami Open draw wide open with a stunning victory over top seed and world number one Simona Halep.

Roger Federer has confirmed he will not play the clay-court season in 2018 and will be missing the French Open for the third year in a row.

Caroline Wozniacki has called on Miami Open organisers to act after members of her family were subject to death threats during her defeat to Monica Puig on Friday.

Benoit Paire dealt another blow to a listless Novak Djokovic by knocking the former world number one out of the Miami Open in the second round on Friday.

Table Tennis

Facing allegations of sexual assault, Soumyajit Ghosh was provisionally suspended by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) on Friday. The decision ends Ghosh’s hopes of being part of the Indian squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The ongoing saga involving Soumyajit Ghosh took a dramatic twist when the former National table tennis champion did not return to the country as scheduled on Sunday.

Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton was in disbelief as he struggled to understand how Sebastian Vettel pipped him to victory in the Australian Grand Prix.

Chess

In a welcome move, Koneru Humpy has been made part of the Indian women's team for the Chess Olympiad to be held in Batumi, Georgia, in September- October this year.

Badminton

Star shuttler P.V. Sindhu has been named the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast next month. According to sources in the Indian Olympic Association, 2016 Olympic silver medallist Sindhu’s rising stature in recent years clinched the issue in her favour for the coveted position. The opening ceremony will be held on April 4.

Athletics

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) might be trying to get his late entry in the Commonwealth Games but long jumper M. Sreeshankar’s chances of taking part in the multi-sporting event got over after he was diagnosed with appendicitis.

Shooting

Manu Bhaker continued to lend the golden touch to Indian shooting as the 16-year-old won the individual and team gold medals in women’s air pistol in the Junior World Cup in Sydney on Saturday.

Golf

Shubhankar Sharma pushed the reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia to the limit before losing by a hole in his first match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match-Play Championship.