* Smith accepts ban, says CA wanted to send strong message
* Bancroft also decides against appeal (Adds Bancroft reaction)
MELBOURNE, April 4 (Reuters) - Former captain Steve Smith and batsman Cameron Bancroft will not contest the sanctions imposed on them by Cricket Australia (CA) for their role in last month’s ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, the banned duo said on Wednesday.
Smith and former vice captain David Warner were handed 12-month bans, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months after the latter was caught using a piece of sandpaper on the ball in the third test in Cape Town.
“I would give anything to have this behind me and be back representing my country,” Smith said on his verified Twitter account. “But I meant what I said about taking full responsibility as Captain of the team.
“I won’t be challenging the sanctions. They’ve been imposed by CA to send a strong message and I have accepted them.”
Bancroft followed suit and accepted his punishment.
“Today I lodged the paperwork with Cricket Australia and will be accepting the sanction handed down,” tweeted the 25-year-old.
“I would love to put this behind me and will do whatever it takes to earn back the trust of the Australian public. Thank you to all those who have sent messages of support.”
The players have until Thursday to appeal their bans with Warner the only player left to announce his decision.
Smith and Warner were stripped of their leadership positions for their role in the March 24 incident and are set to lose substantial earnings after sponsors dropped them and they were banned from this year’s Indian Premier League.
Smith and Bancroft were also barred from holding leadership positions within the Australian team for two years, while Warner will never be able to hold such a position again.
The trio returned to Australia at the end of last week, where all three gave emotional news conferences in which they accepted full responsibility for their actions.
Despite the backlash to the incident, Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) has called for a reduction in the bans meted out to the players, describing them as “disproportionate”.
“As I stated yesterday, the players have our support whatever they decide,” its president Greg Dyer said in an ACA tweet on Wednesday.
“This is a deeply personal decision with unique circumstances and complexities for each person.
“We continue to support the three men at this difficult time.”
The scandal has prompted Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who was cleared of any wrongdoing by the CA, to step down after the final test against South Africa.
The ball-tampering controversy was the low point of an already tempestuous tour in which the sides split the opening two tests before South Africa went on the register easy victories in the remaining two matches to win the series 3-1.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien/Amlan Chakraborty