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Australia's Smith, Warner and Bancroft sent home

The three players involved in the ball-tampering case will leave South Africa on Wednesday. Credit: PA

Darren Lehmann will continue in his role as head coach of the Australia team after a Cricket Australia investigation found that he had no prior knowledge of the plan to ball tamper during the third Test against South Africa.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said that knowledge of Cameron Bancroft's attempt to manipulate the ball with sticky tape against South Africa in Cape Town was limited to three players - opener Bancroft, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner.

Sutherland said Tim Paine has been appointed captain of Australia's Test team, and said the three players involved in the ball-tampering case will leave South Africa on Wednesday.

"I want to apologise to all Australians for what took place," Sutherland told a press conference in Johannesburg. "It's about the reputation and integrity of Australian cricket and Australian sport and whether Australians can take pride in their national team.

"The key finding is that prior knowledge of the ball-tampering incident was limited to three players - captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

"The three players on report, we are contemplating significant sanctions, which will reflect the gravity of what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket."

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Smith steps down as Rajasthan Royals captain

Credit: PA

Australia captain Steve Smith has stood down as skipper of the Rajasthan Royals as the furore surrounding cricket's latest ball-tampering row deepens.

Smith said he had taken the decision "in the best interest" of the Indian Premier League franchise ahead of the new season, which starts next week.

The 28-year-old's future as leader of the national team is also under intense scrutiny as investigations continue into events during Australia's third Test defeat against South Africa in Cape Town.

Smith has already been banned from the fourth Test, which begins on Friday, by the International Cricket Council after admitting trying to change the condition of the ball.

The scandal came to light on Saturday after Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera hiding sticky tape, which he had used to manipulate the ball with debris from the pitch, down his trousers.

Royals head of cricket Zubin Bharucha said: "The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricket world.

"Steve believes given the current circumstances, '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'."

Co-owner Manoj Badale said: "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.

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Afghanistan beat Ireland to make Cricket World Cup

Afghanistan beat Ireland to qualify for the World Cup. Credit: AP

Ireland will not participate at next year's World Cup after suffering an agonising defeat to Afghanistan in their all-or-nothing encounter in Harare.

The two latest full member nations of the International Cricket Council were both vying for a place in England and Wales next summer as the qualification tournament reached its crescendo.

And it was Afghanistan who prevailed as they overhauled Ireland's 209 for seven with five wickets and five balls to spare to join the West Indies in the 10-team global tournament.

It is a spectacular reversal of fortunes for Afghanistan, who lost their first three group games and only progressed to the Super Six stage through net run-rate before hitting their straps.

While they will be contemplating a World Cup qualifier final against the Windies on Sunday, Ireland miss out on the tournament proper for the first time since 2003.

Broad takes 400th test wicket against New Zealand

Stuart Broad has become only the second English bowler to reach 400 Test wickets. Credit: PA

Stuart Broad has become only the second English bowler to reach 400 Test wickets.

Broad followed his team-mate, and all-time national leading wicket-taker, James Anderson to the feat when he had Tom Latham clipping a catch to midwicket at the start of the final session on day one of the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland.

His notable achievement, however, was overshadowed by England's collapse to 58 all out in New Zealand's inaugural day-night Test.In reply, the hosts were 92 for two.

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