Cricket-Australia calls on Smith to give up captaincy

MELBOURNE, March 25 (Reuters) - Former players and pundits have demanded Steve Smith give up the Australia cricket captaincy for "blatant cheating" in the wake of stunning ball-tampering revelations during the third test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Smith took responsibility for a plan orchestrated by senior players to change the condition of the ball but said on Saturday he would not step down as captain.

Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera using sticky tape to rub granules from the pitch into the ball to alter its condition and get it to swing.

Australian former test bowler Rodney Hogg said Smith could not continue in his role as skipper.

"Unfortunately this is blatant cheating and Steve Smith will have to step down as Australian captain," Hogg said on Twitter.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan hit out at the decision to use 25-year-old opening batsman Bancroft, the youngest player in the side, to carry out the plan.

"What I find appalling in all this is the youngster got given the job," he tweeted.

"Was it because someone in the team had been accused of using Hand tape for a similar affect !!!!!!! So they wanted someone else to take the mantle .... Disgraceful behaviour by senior pros."

Australian newspapers described the scandal as the worst captaincy crisis since 1981 when skipper Greg Chappell instructed his younger brother to bowl underarm with the last ball in a one-day match against New Zealand.

Fairfax Media's Chris Barrett said that as captain Smith may have to pay a high price.

"What took place at the foot of Table Mountain was dumb and deplorable in equal measure," wrote Barrett.

"In the case of Smith, he should have known better ... The mistake may cost him very dearly."

Former captain Allan Border said it was a "a bad look for Australian cricket".

"Certainly, it will go all the way through to Cricket Australia," he said commentating on broadcaster Supersport.

"The directors will get involved. It's that serious."

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has called a media conference in Melbourne at midday local time (0100 GMT).

A commentary on Australian broadcaster Fox Sports said the scandal meant it was impossible for Smith to stay on as captain.

"Despite the dark blot this incident has left on his name, Smith insists he is the right man to captain Australia," it said.

"There is only so far down his own sword he is willing to fall.

"But the fact is his position is untenable. This was not a heat of the moment call. This was premeditated."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)