OPINION: There is no way Steve Smith can survive the ball-tampering controversy that's erupted on day three of the third test against South Africa at Newlands.
Steve Smith is a once-in-a-generation talent with the bat. He has a unique technique which has seen him score thousands of runs. He is perhaps the best in the world. But he is not a leader. He is not fit to captain the Australian cricket team.
Even when he had a chance to show some leadership today, he faltered. When the first question of today's post-match press conference was delivered, he sat and allowed Cameron Bancroft to catch the first of a series of grenades that was about to be lobbed their way during an astonishing eight minutes that blew apart the integrity of the Australian cricket team. It was more embarrassing than watching Bancroft hide that small yellow object down his pants.
As Smith would eventually go on to explain, this was an idea hatched by the leadership group carried out by Bancroft (or "Bangers" as Smith would inappropriately refer to his teammate as. If you could you at least leave the jingoism and backslapping at the door when you've just bought the game into disrepute, that'd be great). Smith may not want to name names, but Cricket Australia needs to identify exactly who came up with this idea and ban them. If they can't, then Smith needs to take responsibility for the incident.
Smith maintains he's still the best person for the job, but anyone who approves this move - whether your idea or not - is not a leader. He has the final say. He had an opportunity to check his compass on this one and chose to stay the course. Just because you're the best player in your team, does not necessarily make you the best captain.
This incident raises more serious questions about not only judgement but trust as well. Smith says this sort of incident won't happen again under his leadership, and it's never happened before. It was only in January this year that Smith denied accusations he applied lip balm to the ball during a one day international against England. Does that incident need to be revisited? Do we believe Smith when he said it was "all spit"?
And the end of it all, this incident has disgraced Australian cricket. Ball-tampering is tantamount to fixing in the eyes of cricketing purists. These allegations, this incident, will stick. The images of Bancroft rubbing tape on the ball will linger in the memory. The frank nature of the admission of guilt from both Bancroft and Smith after the match even more shocking. It's a moment to rival Mohammad Amir bowling deliberate no-balls at Lord's.
This is a dark day for all of cricket, and Steve Smith must take responsibility. It is up to Cricket Australia to act.
Andrew Gourdie is a sports reporter/presenter and host of RadioLIVE's Sunday Sport from 2pm.