Smith loses IPL role, rich contract up in air

Rob Forsaith
AAP

Steve Smith has stepped down as captain of Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royals, with the shamed batsman no certainty to take up his lucrative $2.4 million deal.

Smith, reeling from the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, has handed the Rajasthan captaincy over to Ajinkya Rahane.

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The Royals are yet to make it clear whether Smith will take part in the Twenty20 competition that starts on April 7.

It's understood the world's top-ranked Test batsman, who was set to travel straight to India after the four-Test series in South Africa, is strongly considering the merits of sacrificing his most profitable contract ever.

David Warner, who captains Sunrisers Hyderabad, could also come under pressure to step down from his IPL leadership post as more emerges about the role Australia's vice-captain played in the ball-tampering discussion with Smith.

The cheating scandal may yet cost Smith and Warner the Test captaincy and vice-captaincy respectively, with Cricket Australia (CA) officials currently probing the matter in Cape Town.

Rajasthan are returning to the IPL after a two-year ban for corruption.

"The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricket world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel," Royals head of cricket Zubin Bharucha said.

Smith faces a nervous wait to learn the extent of his punishment. Pic: Supplied

"Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Steve.

"(Smith believes) 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."

The fallout from the saga that started when Smith rubber stamped Australia's premeditated plan to cheat in the third Test, has well and truly hit home.

"It's been a horrible 24 hours, they're struggling," Tim Paine said of Smith and Cameron Bancroft.

Smith, an emotional character who struggles to hide his feelings on and off the pitch, is shattered by the damage that he's done to his reputation.

Sponsors of CA and Smith are unhappy their partnerships have been tainted by one of the sport's darkest hours in Australia.

The 28-year-old loves the IPL but could yet walk away from the upcoming edition of the tournament that falls during Australian players' leave period.

"More than the money, I believe the best thing the IPL offers me - and any other player for that matter - is the ability to learn on the job in high-pressure situations," Smith wrote in his biography.

"The money is excellent ... (but) the players involved earn every cent."

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