Aussie cricket coach Lehmann resigning after all

A couple of days ago there were reports that Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann would resign in the wake of the ball tampering scandal while in South Africa.

Yesterday, after the scandal escalated with confirmation that sand paper rather than sticky tape was used, and the tamperer, the captain and the vice captain were all given lengthy bans, Lehmann was cleared of being involved and said he would stay as coach.

SMH: ‘I need to change’: Tearful Lehmann looks to New Zealand as model

Tears welling in his eyes, head cricket coach Darren Lehmann has pledged that the Australian team will change and so will he.

The Australian head coach has overseen a team with a hard and uncomprising edge that has been pilloried around the cricket world and at home, even before their crash last Saturday to an all-time low.

On Wednesday, there was softness as Lehmann stressed that the “human side” of the ball-tampering controversy needed to be understood, pleading for the culprits to be given a second chance.

The crying shame of it all is that it has taken such a terrible episode, tarnishing careers and changing lives, for Lehmann and what is left of the side to look themselves in the mirror.

The coach has endorsed an attitude of stretching the limits of what is considered acceptable, content to win ugly if that is what it takes. Headbutting “the line”, as they liked to say. It was an approach that was the poisonous foundation for what took place at Newlands.

That is all over. Winning, suddenly, isn’t all that matters. They are putting a line through the line.

“I need to change,” Lehmann said.

“We need to change how we play and within the boundaries we play. Obviously previously we’ve butted heads on the line but that’s not the way to go about us playing cricket moving forward.

“We have to try and win the public back now and play the type of cricket that they expect us to play. We have to look at how we go about that, as a coach and support staff and playing group, and make the game better for everyone to play and enjoy watching us play.”

But a day later Lehmann has announced he will stand down after the fourth and last test against South Africa (that starts tonight).

SMH:  Darren Lehmann quits as coach of the Australian cricket team

An emotional Lehmann announced on Thursday that the fourth Test against South Africa would be his last in charge.

He said he had made the decision to resign after watching Steve Smith’s gut-wrenching press conference in Sydney as well as Cameron Bancroft fronting the media in Perth.

“The feeling is that Australian cricket needs to move forward and this is the right thing to do,” Lehmann said.

“My family and I have copped a lot of abuse over the last week and it’s taken its toll. Life on the road means a long time away from our loved ones and after speaking with them at length over the last few days, this is the right time to step away.

“I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I’ve been thinking about my position for a while. Despite telling media yesterday that I’m not resigning, after viewing Steve and Cameron’s hurting, it’s only fair that I make this decision.

“This will allow Cricket Australia to undertake a full review into the culture of the team to begin to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public. This is the right thing for cricket.”

I think this was inevitable. Lehmann is ultimately responsible for the ugly win by any means culture that had re-established itself under his guidance.

It will be a tough test for the Baggy Greens, without their captain and vice captain, without both their opening batsmen, without their two best batsmen. And with a coach rocked by the scandal and how it played out this week, and a team in upheaval.

There were awful scenes from the airport as Steve Smith left South Africa. He has disgraced himself but didn’t deserve to be treated so poorly.

It will be interesting to see the attitude the South African team takes on to the pitch, and how the crowd will treat the Australians in the outfield. They may wish they were in the outback.

Sandpaper escalation in Australian cricket scandal

Australia’s cricket cheating disgrace has got worse with the revelation that sandpaper was being used to tamper with the ball. The main players have been given lengthy playing bans, but there are still questions unanswered.

SMH: Sandpaper, lies and videotape: Warner fingered by CA as architect

The twists and turns have just kept coming in Australia’s ball-tampering disgrace in South Africa with Cricket Australia admitting it was sandpaper and not tape that was used and that David Warner had been the architect, even instructing Cameron Bancroft how to cheat.

As Steve Smith and Warner received 12-months bans from playing for Australia – and were banned by India from the IPL – CA released a jaw-dropping charge sheet against the sacked captain and vice-captain and opener Bancroft, who has been suspended for nine months.

That is probably a career ending ban for Warner, who was also copped a life time banned from being captain again.

Smith is younger so would have time to try to get back into international cricket and into lucrative league deals, but that won’t be easy for him. Bancroft’s career may be over just after it started.

The most stunning revelation was that it had been sandpaper, and not a piece of yellow tape, that Bancroft had used to try and alter the condition of the ball at Newlands and then hid down his pants in full view of the television cameras.

However, CA also lambasted Smith for making “misleading” public comments about the incident and confirmed Warner’s position at the heart of the scandal, banning him from ever captaining Australia.

The governing body’s investigation established that Warner had not only told Bancroft to take the sandpaper onto the ground, but had gone as far as giving Bancroft a tutorial on how to tamper with the ball.

Warner was found to have been behind the “development” of the plan and was alleged to have given “instruction to a junior player to carry out a plan to take steps to attempt to artificially alter the condition of the ball using sandpaper”.

Further, and most damningly, it was concluded that he provided “advice to a junior player regarding how a ball could be artificially altered including demonstrating how it could be done.”

Smith, who is prohibited from captaining Australia until a year after his ban expires, was also slammed for his part in the conspiracy and the attempted cover-up.

Smith was also found to have been guilty of “seeking to mislead match officials and others” about Bancroft’s conduct on the field.

At this stage coach Darren Lehmann has been cleared, and is now saying that Australia should learn from new Zealand’s approach to cricket – playing hard but fair, something Australia were known for a long time ago.

But there are still question marks.

It would be remarkable if the captain and vice captain planned to cheat by doctoring the ball without the coach’s knowledge. At the very least it suggests a corrupt culture they operated in, which is the coach’s responsibility.

It would also be remarkable that the bowlers, who would have most benefited from ball tampering, had no knowledge that they may get artificial assistance.

The big question is whether this was a one off or whether it the Australian players have done it before, and if so, how much.

Warner seems to be well practiced in tampering, and until the recent test was the player in charge of looking after the match ball. He handed that responsibility over to Bancroft for the fateful test where this all turned to yellow custard.

The culture of Australian international cricket is also in the spotlight, where a win by any means attitude has been obvious for some time (since Lehmann took over).

SNH: ‘What the f— is going on?’ The words that cleared Darren Lehmann

Cricket Australia has moved to distance Darren Lehmann from the ball-tampering crisis, saying he had radioed down to substitute Peter Hanscomb to tell him to ask “what the f— is going on” rather than to tell Cameron Bancroft that he had been sprung with a piece of sandpaper.

Lehmann said he was “confident it’s an isolated issue and a grave mistake”, although he could not be sure his team had not previously engaged such tactics.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who wonders whether the team had an arrangement where the coach effectively had a policy of ‘do what you want but don’t get caught and don’t connect me to it’.

The head coach maintained that the first time he had realised it was sandpaper that Bancroft was using – not tape as the opener had originally explained – was after the CA investigation had been completed.

While he has been cleared by CA of any responsibility for the conspiracy to cheat, Lehmann has been targeted elsewhere for overseeing a team culture that had deteriorated to the point where such reprehensible behaviour was allowed to happen.

That will be a key discussion point of an independent review of the team’s culture that has been announced.

“I’ve got no doubt that he feels some sort of personal responsibility for that,” Sutherland said.

He may well do.

Australian cricket cheating – interim aftermath

Cricket Australia has just announced that they have stood down captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and ball tamperer Cameron Bancroft for the rest of the South African tour. As the tour  is just about over one could wonder if this is just an interim step. News reports coming in say “heavy sanctions to follow”.

SMH: Smith, Warner and Bancroft sent home, heavy sanctions to follow

Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will be sent home from South Africa after being reported by Cricket Australia and they are facing “significant sanctions,” CA’s chief executive James Sutherland said.

It will be another 24 hours until the penalties against players are handed down due to an ongoing investigation but Sutherland indicated CA would come down hard.

He said it had been established that only three players had prior knowledge of the ball-tampering episode. He also denied that coach Darren Lehmann was resigning.

Despite news reports that coach Darren Lehmann would resign that hasn’t happened (yet), the investigation found that he was not in on the ball tampering scheme. That may clear him of direct involvement, but it raises questions about his authority and the team culture if players tried to cheat without his knowledge.

There has been a big rift in the team over this.

SMH: Players turn on David Warner as ball-tampering crisis rips team apart

The ball-tampering crisis that has brought Australian cricket to its knees turned nuclear on Tuesday night with players turning on David Warner amid claims that the deposed vice-captain may never play for his country again.

The deposed vice-captain removed himself from the team’s WhatsApp group in the midst of the unprecedented drama. Warner and Steve Smith, who were both facing losing their leadership roles as well as having bans imposed for their part in the cheating plot, walked through Cape Town airport surrounded by hordes of television cameras and reporters.

Fairfax Media reported exclusively on Monday night that Warner had emerged as the central character in the affair, with suggestions he was the primary figure behind the ill-fated decision for Cameron Bancroft to use a piece of yellow tape to try and alter the condition of the ball during the third Test.

Sources close to Warner had denied that he was the instigator, saying the whole team were aware of the plans, including Australia’s fast bowlers. Their belief was that if one or two players were to go down over the controversy, then all should.

Senior fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, as well as the team’s most capped player, Nathan Lyon, had distanced themselves from knowledge of the ploy soon after Smith’s claim after the day’s play on Saturday that the decision had been made by the “leadership group”.

The major disharmony between Warner and others in the team has led to suggestions from prominent figures within the game that he may never play for the country. Sources say that players do not want to set foot on the field with him again.

Warner had previously been the team’s appointed ball manager in the field, but after gaining attention for wearing a bandage over his hand and fingers in Port Elizabeth in the previous match, the task was then left to junior team member Bancroft, who was deemed less likely to go under the microscope of the operators of the local television broadcaster’s 30 cameras.

This is serious embarrassing for cricket in Australia. Smith and Warner would appear to have stuffed their careers, and also the future of Bancroft.

And this will hang over the team for a long time.

In wake of cricket cheating Australia capitulate, captain suspended

In the wake of the ball tampering cheating scandal the Australian cricket team has been under barrage from scathing criticism from around the world, not the least from their own country.

The Australian Sports Commission:

The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport. The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country.

Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball.

This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.

 

Yesterday team captain Steve Smith admitted being involved in planning the ball tampering with a ‘leadership team’ but said he would not stand down. After pressure and a change of heart he and vice captain David Warner “have agreed to stand down for the remainder of the test”

A letter from Cricket Australia:

This (and more scathing criticism, including from past Australian captains) will have no doubt been on the minds of the team still involved in the third test in South Africa. With the series level 1-1, Australia were in a difficult position. Chasing 430 runs in the last innings they got to 57 before losing a wicket (the cheater Bancroft was run out), but from there the team capitulated, losing all ten wickets for fifty runs to be all out on 107, to lose the test by 322 runs.

From Cricinfo:

Tim Paine: “it’s been a horrible 24 hours and I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to our fans. From a cricket perspective, today was extremely disappointing, the way we folded in that last 45 minutes. It’s been a real challenge for us, we need to turn ourselves into the cricket team we want to be.”

The Man of the Man is Morne Morkel: “I’m a little emotional at the moment, but what an afternoon of cricket. We asked the guys to give it all. I was hoping I could deliver something special. For me, the best thing was to keep working hard on my fitness and hope to get the opportunity. I got the nod and knew I needed to put my hand up as a senior bowler.”

Aniket : “Deliciously fitting that in a match (and series so far) marred with unsavory behaviour and abuse/sledging, a fast bowler who has never felt the need to mouth off/give ugly send offs under the guise of aggression wins the man of the match award. “

Following the match the ICC has suspended Smith (but not Bancroft): Smith suspended by ICC for fourth Test, Bancroft escapes ban

The International Cricket Council has suspended Steve Smith for a Test match over the ball-tampering furore in South Africa, ensuring that Tim Paine will continue to lead the disgraced team for the final leg of the series in Johannesburg.

The crisis confronting the Australian team yesterday forced Smith and David Warner to sensationally stand down from the captaincy and vice-captaincy for the rest of the third Test as Paine took over.

Hours later, the ICC announced that it had found Smith guilty of being “party to a decision to attempt to change the condition of the ball in order to gain an unfair advantage”. He was also fined 100 per cent of his match fee. Cameron Bancroft, who used yellow tape to tamper with the ball on Saturday after a plot devised at the lunch break, was spared a ban.

ICC chief executive David Richardson laid the charge against Smith, describing his conduct as of a “serious nature that is contrary to the spirit of the game”.

“The decision made by the leadership group of the Australian team to act in this way is clearly contrary to the spirit of the game, risks causing significant damage to the integrity of the match, the players and the sport itself and is therefore ‘serious’ in nature.”

As captain, Steve Smith must take full responsibility for the actions of his players and it is appropriate that he be suspended.

Bancroft received three demerit points, one less than Smith and one short of the amount that triggers a suspension, and was fined 75 per cent of his match fee.

Bancroft was put in an invidious position by Smith and other senior players, but is lucky to have escaped a ban.

But the pressure continues for more drastic repercussions.

SMH: ‘Zero tolerance’: Steve Smith’s Rajasthan Royals contract in jeopardy

The Telegraph: Australia’s cricket elite demand dismissals of Steve Smith and David Warner to save Baggy Green status following ball-tampering scandal

Australia’s cricketing aristocracy rounded on their Test side in the wake of the cheating scandal which has convulsed the nation.

“It’s hard to see how Steve Smith can continue as Australia captain and it’s hard to see how David Warner continues as vice-captain,” said former fast bowler Jason Gillespie.

There was also incredulity from Michael Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as captain, about how Cameron Bancroft had been leant on to do the dirty work.

“I can’t believe they have got the young kid playing in only his eighth Test to do that. As a leader, you can’t ask somebody to do something that you’re not willing to do yourself. You can see that Smith is shattered.”

Simon Katich, the former opening batsman, argued that James Sutherland, Cricket Australia chief executive, had no choice, after Smith’s acknowledgement that the entire “leadership group” had been complicit in tampering, to sack the captain, as well as coach Darren Lehmann and vice-captain Warner.

“This was premeditated and calculated, and those guys are in charge of Bancroft behaving the way he did. I love Steve Smith, but he has made a serious error and I think it is going to cost him the captaincy of Australia. If Cricket Australia condone blatant cheating, then the message they send to the thousands of kids who aspire to wear the Baggy Green is far worse than a few guys losing their jobs.”

Former captain Allan Border was clear that Smith should be prepared to lose his job on a permanent basis.

“If the ICC and the Australian board decide that Steve Smith is free to play in the fourth Test, I would be comfortable with that. But equally, if he has to pay a penalty for his leadership in going down this path, I would be just as comfortable.”

So the cheating scandal looks far from over – it will never be over, it will be remembered for a long time. And the Australian team has to somehow prepare themselves for the fourth test.

Aussies caught and admit cheating in cricket

This is seriously embarrassing for Australian cricket.

ODT (Reuters): ‘We cheated’ Smith sorry but won’t resign

Australia captain Steve Smith says he is embarrassed and takes responsibility for the actions of his side after they were charged with attempting to change the condition of the ball in the third test against South Africa on Saturday, but he will not be stepping down as skipper.

Smith detailed an orchestrated effort from the team’s “leadership group” to use sticky tape to pick up hard granules from the pitch and rub these against the ball to try to alter its condition and get it to swing.

Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, 25, the most junior member in the side, was the player tasked with implementing the plan and he has been charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which could lead to a one-match ban and a 100 percent fine of his match fee.

“It is not what we want to see in the game, it’s not what the Australian cricket team is about. Being the leader of the team I am incredibly sorry for trying to bring the game into disrepute like we did today.”

But it clearly was what the Australian cricket team was about.

Smith said it was the first and last time the team had hatched such a plan and while he would not name the other conspirators, he said head coach Darren Lehmann was not involved.

The team leaders would execute a plan to cheat without the coach being involved? If true, that’s remarkable.

“The leadership group knew about it, we spoke about it at lunch,” Smith said. “I’m not proud of what has happened. It’s not in the spirit of the game, my integrity and the integrity of the team has been damaged and rightfully so. It’s not on and it won’t happen again, I can promise you.

“The coaches weren’t involved, it was purely the players and the leadership group who came up with this. A poor choice, our actions are deeply regrettable.”

This is seriously damaging to Smith and to Australian cricket.

Cricinfo: Desperation drove Australia to cheat – Smith

A match and series slipping away and a ball that could not get past the bats of South Africa’s batsmen drove Australia’s captain Steven Smith to an orchestrated attempt to cheat by tampering with the ball, a task carried out by the team’s youngest member Cameron Bancroft with the use of adhesive tape to try to pick up some rough earth from the Newlands pitch.

“We saw this game as such an important game, not that other games aren’t important as well, but an opportunity. We’ve seen the ball reversing quite a lot throughout this series and our ball just didn’t look like it was going to go. That’s a mistake on our behalf again. It’s such poor actions and deeply regrettable and certainly won’t happen again under my leadership I can promise you.”

Their tour of South Africa has already been controversial over abuse between players.

South Africa 311 and 238 for 5 (Markram 84, De Villiers 51*) lead Australia 255 (Bancroft 77, Morkel 4-87, Rabada 4-91) by 294 runs

This series was already a bubbling cauldron of toil and trouble. Not surprisingly, the addition of Cameron Bancroft’s underpants to an already putrid mix could have results as unpredictable as eye of newt and toe of frog. Certainly it resulted in a stink on the third day in Cape Town, where half-centuries from Aiden Markram and AB de Villierspushed South Africa’s lead towards 300 and rendered Australia’s task for the remainder of this Test very difficult indeed.

The test series is drawn 1-all, with Australia under pressure in this third test, and they have no put themselves under considerably more pressure.