Gillespie: Smith's captaincy is over after torching Australia's reputation
Jason Gillespie said Steve Smith must go as captain after tarnishing Australia's reputation in the ball-tampering controversy during the third Test with South Africa, while the former paceman questioned the future of coach Darren Lehmann.
Australian cricket has been humiliated and rocked after Smith – who received a one-match ban from the ICC – conceded the team's leadership group were behind the ball-tampering scandal that overshadowed day three in Cape Town, where the Proteas romped to a 322-run victory on Sunday.
Under-fire opener Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera rubbing the ball with yellow tape, resulting in three demerit points and a 75 per cent fine of his match fee as the plot sparked widespread condemnation.
Gillespie – who played 71 Tests for Australia and claimed 259 wickets – weighed into the incident, writing for the Guardian: "Steve Smith's time as Australia's captain is surely up. It is impossible to envisage a scenario where he stays in the job. This is a train wreck.
"When Smith fronted the media on Saturday to explain his role in the ball-tampering scandal, one that has taken an already distasteful encounter with South Africa to new depths, he did not appear to grasp the severity of what he was owning up to. That simply beggared belief.
"This was pre-planned cheating. It may have been implemented by a junior player in Cameron Bancroft but it came with the backing and knowledge of 'the leadership group', a core of senior guys in the Australian set-up. The reputation of a team who were already drawing scorn for their behaviour has been torched.
"Beyond Smith and his vice-captain, David Warner, who is this leadership group? Were the coaches involved? We need this information and we need it yesterday because I know of at least one senior player who is outraged that they have been dragged into the dirt by association without having been involved at all."
Gillespie continued: "The brutal reality is that this team are seen as arrogant and all too quick to dictate 'the line' to others. It was not so long ago that Warner was ripping into Faf du Plessis for ball-tampering in 2016, saying Australia would never do the same. The events over the weekend have exposed this as rank hypocrisy.
"It is little wonder the fallout has been so huge and sympathy for Australia has been in such short supply. Because for all the good cricket played in this series against South Africa – and we are watching two excellent sides – the atmosphere has stunk and it has made the viewing less enjoyable than it should be.
"Is the Baggy Green tarnished as a result of this? That is possibly too extreme but certainly the current generation – Smith and his as yet unspecified leadership group – have made a grave error and one that will stay with them for a good while.
"Where Darren Lehmann fits into this is anyone's guess. Smith insisted the head coach knew nothing of the scheme during the lunch break. We have not spoken since but I would be amazed if this was not the case and that the moves he made when it all unravelled on the field were not done on instinct to protect his players."
"The Australian men's team will now need to rebuild public trust from scratch," Gillespie added. "What must happen is a period of serious introspection. There are some fine individuals in the set-up, trust me, but as a team they need to re-examine how they play the game, along with their behaviour and image overall."