THE cricket world has reacted strongly to Steve Smith and David Warner's decisions to step down from their leadership positions for the remainder of the third Test in Cape Town following the ball tampering controversy that has rocked the sport.

Shortly before play commenced on Sunday the pair revealed they would relinquish their roles as captain and vice-captain of Australia's Test cricket team for days four and five of the Test.

Tim Paine was named the team's new skipper, completing a remarkable career turnaround for a man who only a year ago was considering quitting the game for good when he couldn't force his way into Tasmania's first XI.

Despite not leading the team in an official capacity, both Smith and Warner still took the field on day four.

Plenty had already called for Smith to be removed as captain but that he was still standing alongside his teammates was not something that sat well with everyone.

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Smith was also fielding alongside Paine in the slips, making the situation more awkward. Having stepped down as captain he likely would not be offering any advice to Paine - a tough scenario to avoid when fielding in such close proximity to the new skipper.

On the other side of the coin, Shane Warne said while the cheating that took place was "un-Australian", it was not the right move for the pair to stand down in the middle of the match.

"I don't think it's the right thing Steve Smith and David Warner should be stood down during the match," Warne said in commentary. "Wait until the end of the Test match.

"If it means to dismiss Smith, dismiss Warner, get them out of the team, sack them as captain and vice-captain - that's fine. During the middle of play with only a day-and-a-half to go, I would have thought this is the time for the captain to stand up and go, 'Rightio guys, I take responsibility, I've done the wrong thing, but we've still got two days of this Test match to go, now let's show some character.'

'"We've done the wrong thing which I accept total responsibility for as captain, but it's time for the team to gel together and try and win this Test match.'

"I would have liked to see the captain gel them and make amends for what he did yesterday."

"At the end of the Test, if you want to get them out of the team and sack them as captain and vice-captain, that's fine, but not during the Test match because everyone else is flat now."

Veteran cricket broadcaster Jim Maxwell was on the verge of tears as he revealed just how deeply the scandal had impacted him.

"I do not remember being as disappointed in an Australian team as I feel at the moment," Maxwell said in commentary.

"It was so blatant and so stupid, immature, naive ... it was hugely disappointing."

 

Former England captain Michael Vaughan suggested Smith and Warner may not enjoy much support from Cricket Australia because they opposed their employer so steadfastly during last year's pay negotiations.

Vaughan also said Smith and Warner falling on their swords - at least for the time being - didn't go far enough, while Kevin Pietersen said coaches and the leadership group all needed to go.

 

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland revealed the news in a statement on Sunday.

"Following discussions with Steve Smith and David Warner they have agreed to stand down as captain and vice-captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match," Sutherland said.

"This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.

"As I said earlier today, Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met."

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever said the board endorsed Paine to be the acting captain.

"The Board of Cricket Australia has endorsed Tim Paine to step in as acting captain for the remainder of this Test.

"Both Steve and David will take to the field today under Tim's captaincy.

"The board fully supports the process for an immediate investigation into what occurred in Cape Town. We regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness and urgency. We will ensure we have all information available to make the right decisions for Australian Cricket."



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