Cricketers hit with historic bans
STEVE Smith and David Warner have been slapped with historic 12-month suspensions, according to an Aussie cricket commentator.
The most severe bans ever handed out by Cricket Australia leaves the careers of Warner, 31, and Smith, 28, in tatters.
The suspensions were first reported by veteran ABC Grandstand cricket commentator Jim Maxwell on Wednesday night.
Maxwell said Smith and Warner will be stood down from all forms of cricket until March, 2019.
It is unclear if opening batsman Cameron Bancroft has also been suspended.
It means Australia will sensationally be without their two best-recognised batsmen for the highly anticipated summer Test series against India on home soil, beginning in November.
The four-test series against India is just one of the many matches the stars will miss.
The suspension means the pair will be unable to play in the 2018 IPL, forcing them to surrender the $2.4 million contracts they signed with their franchises in January.
The pair will also miss a five-match ODI series against England, beginning June 13.
Cricket Australia is also expected to confirm a brief limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe and a home Test series against Bangladesh during the Australian winter.
Cricket Australia has also confirmed Australia will play a two-test and ODI series against Sri Lanka beginning in December.
The suspension will allow Warner and Smith to play in next year's ODI World Cup and the 2019 Ashes in England.
Cricket Australia James Sutherland on Wednesday morning declared the sanctions handed out to Smith, Warner and Bancroft would be "serious".
Sutherland announced from South Africa Smith, Warner and Bancroft were also all to be sent home from the tour of South Africa in disgrace for their roles in planning and carrying out a ball tampering scheme in the third test in Cape Town over the weekend.
"In regards to the three players on report, I want to stress that we are contemplating significant sanctions in each case," Sutherland said.
"These sanctions will reflect the gravity with which we view what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket."
He stopped short of announcing any punishments for the three players, though, as an internal investigation into the cheating conspiracy that traumatised a country of cricket fans is yet to be completed.
Most of the players and backroom staff had been interviewed by Cricket Australia's integrity chief Iain Roy, Sutherland said. Roy still had to complete his report, but would do so in the next 24 hours.
Sutherland insisted that initial findings showed that Smith, Warner and Bancroft were the only members of the Australian team who had "prior knowledge" of the tampering plot.
Coach Darren Lehmann, a target for scrutiny for the Australian media, played no role in the cheating, Sutherland said, and would continue as coach.
Tim Paine will take over as captain of the team for the Fourth Test in South Africa starting on Friday, with Smith, Warner and Bancroft on a flight home Thursday (AEST).
Their places in the Australia squad will be taken by Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns, who were all flying over to South Africa.
Australia still has a series to play in, and trails 2-1 ahead of the final test in Johannesburg. Engulfed in a crisis, Australia faces losing a series in South Africa for the first time in nearly 50 years.