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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.

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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.

Whitaker to leave role as England cricket selector

Credit: PA

England selector James Whitaker is to leave his post as part of a major overhaul within the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Whitaker, an England selector for a decade, will step down at the end of the month as the ECB plans a new approach to picking players for all forms of international cricket.

Fellow England selectors Angus Fraser and Mick Newell will retain their positions for now and can apply for new roles, the ECB has confirmed.

"The England and Wales Cricket Board is to introduce a new approach to scouting, assessing and selecting players for the senior Test, T20 and One-Day sides, ensuring greater connection right through the international pathway," the ECB said in a statement.

"In line with this new integrated approach, England national selector James Whitaker will step down from his role at the end of March.

"This season will see the introduction of a scouting system with designated discipline-specific scouts, including the current ECB national lead coaches, providing information to a three-strong selection panel, made up of a new national selector, a full-time independent England selector and the England head coach."

The new national selector's role will be advertised this week, with the ECB looking to have a new man in place in time for the next selections in mid-May before the Test series against Pakistan.

"Current England selectors Angus Fraser and Mick Newell will remain in place until new positions have been filled and are free to apply for the new roles," the ECB added.

Director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss said the overhaul was not related to recent results, but a formalised scouting network would help the ECB gather more knowledge about a particular player's strengths.

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