Wed, Mar 28, 3:41pm by Staff Writer
South Africa will begin the fourth and final Test match against Australia from Johannesburg as overwhelming $1.43 favourites after turmoil rocked the third Test.
Australian skipper Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft have all been suspended by Cricket Australia, pending an investigation into alleged ball tampering.
Australia were convincingly beaten in the third Test amid the controversy, with South Africa winning by 322 runs.
The loss of Smith, Warner and Bancroft has decimated Australia’s batting stocks, with their second innings in Newlands a total embarrassment, as they were bowled out for 107 runs.
Despite South Africa leading the series 2-1, Australia are a massive $4.60 to salvage a draw from the four-match series.
Ball tampering is an issue taken seriously by the ICC and national governing bodies all over the world, but it has to be said that penalties have ranged from one match bans to a deduction of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee.
South African captain Faf du Plessis has twice been found guilty of ball tampering offences, first in 2013 and again in 2016.
He was fined 50 per cent and then 100 per cent of his match fee on both occasions.
The outcry surrounding the recent debacle in South Africa calling for the end of the professional careers of Smith and Warner in particular may be premature.
Given the relatively soft stance the ICC has taken towards the issue, if precedent is to be followed, even a one-year ban may be excessive.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland as well as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former Test greats Steve Waugh and Shane Warne among others have been quick to condemn the actions of a few rogue Australian Test players.
With integrity officers now in South Africa, a full investigation is sure to unearth some truths about a few poorly-made choices.
The future of Australian coach Darren Lehmann remains under a cloud, with reports surfacing on Tuesday evening that the coach is set to step down.
Australian cricket has been plunged into turmoil and it is quite staggering that in just three days time, a Test match will be played.
Steve Smith has already lost a lucrative endorsement with Weet-Bix, with more high profile sponsors set to follow and the ramifications of this latest ball tampering scandal set to rock the cricket world for months to come.
Suggested Bet: Take AB de Villiers to top score for South Africa in first innings: $3.75
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