A nation in tears: Lehmann resigns and Smith says sorry
Australia head coach Darren Lehmann will quit after the final Test in South Africa
Darren Lehmann will quit as head coach of the Australian cricket team after the final Test against South Africa.
Australian cricket is currently in a state of turmoil following the bans of captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft after the three players were found guilty of using sandpaper to tamper with the ball during the third Test in Cape Town.
Yesterday it was announced that Lehmann would be spared any punishment because he did not have “any prior knowledge of the plan to ball-tamper”. But today he has decided to step down once the final Test against South Africa finishes on Tuesday.
“After viewing Steve and Cameron’s hurting, it’s only fair that I make this decision,” said a tearful Lehmann. “I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team. This will allow Cricket Australia to complete a full review into the team and allow them to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public, this is the right thing for Australian cricket.
“It’s been a wonderful experience coaching the Australian cricket team. I hope the team rebuilds from this and the Australian public finds it in their hearts to forgive these young men. They’ve made a grave mistake but they are not bad people.”
‘To see my old man, and my mum, it hurts’
Earlier today shamed skipper Smith also faced the media to answer questions about the ball-tampering scandal.
Speaking to press at Sydney Airport Smith broke down when he apologised for his “failure of leadership”. He said: “I am deeply sorry, I love the game of cricket, I love kids wanting to play the great game of cricket that I love.
“Any time you think about making a questionable decision, think about affecting your parents. To see the way my old man has been, and my mum, it hurts.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for the pain I have brought to Australia and the fans and the public.”
‘A stain on the game’
Warner, who received a 12-month ban along with Smith, used Twitter to break his silence and apologised for the “stain on the game” the controversy has caused.
He said: “Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket. I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it. I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans. It’s a stain on the game we all love and I have loved since I was a boy.”
‘I’ve let everyone down in Australia’
After being issued a nine-month suspension, Bancroft told media in Perth that he was “very sorry”. He said: “I’m very disappointed and I regret my actions. It is something I will regret for the rest of my life. I lied. I lied about the sandpaper. I panicked in that situation and I’m very sorry. I feel like I’ve let everyone down in Australia.
“The thing that breaks my heart the most is that I’ve given up my spot in the team for free. People know I worked so hard to get to this point in my career and to have given up that chance for free is devastating.
“It’s going to be a really long road particularly for myself to earn that respect back but for me that's the most important thing.”
The BBC reports that Somerset will not sign Bancroft as their 2018 overseas player following his ban for ball-tampering.