IRATE Australian Test cricketers will seek union support to have their names distanced from the game's ball tampering scandal.

The final fatal blow to Steve Smith's captaincy may come in the form of a protest from players who are guilty by association in the scandal which has rocked Australian cricket to the core.

Smith said the decision to get Cameron Bancroft to tamper with the ball in the third Test in Cape Town was made by the leadership group which also includes David Warner, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

The decision to stand Warner down from the vice-captaincy for the final day of the Cape Town Test was a strong pointer to his guilt because he was interviewed by high-ranking officials before that decision was made.

Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are unhappy being linked the scandal.
Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are unhappy being linked the scandal.

But it is understood several of the other players, particularly Starc and Hazlewood, are furious at being linked with the scandal.

It is believed one of the duo plans to contact the Australian Cricketers Association in the hope they will demand Cricket Australia clarify their lack of involvement.

Sorting out degrees of culpability will be a difficult task for the two Cricket Australia investigators who have landed in South Africa.

There was a suggestion that while Warner and Smith knew the plan from top to bottom some of the others were brought in late and told what was happening.

Will the investigators find them guilty of not taking action or innocent bystanders?

Steve Smith captaincy days look numbered.
Steve Smith captaincy days look numbered.

It is a fine line but it appears the strongest action will be reserved for captain Smith, already banned from this week's final Test in Johannesburg, and Warner.

The London Sun newspaper claimed Warner "shamelessly'' revealed to a group of England players how he roughs up the ball.

The Sun alleged Warner's claimed during dressing room drinks session after the Ashes series he used substances attached to the strapping on his hand to aid the deterioration of the ball.