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Lehmann needs to set the record straight, demands Hussain

 

By David Clough

Former England captain Nasser Hussain feels Australia coach Darren Lehmann has questions to answer amid the ball-tampering scandal involving his team.

Australia captain Steve Smith has admitted he oversaw a plot to change the condition of the ball during the team's third-Test loss to South Africa in Cape Town over the weekend.

The affair blew up on Saturday when cameras caught fielder Cameron Bancroft hiding some sticky tape, which had been used to scuff the ball with debris from the pitch, down his trousers.

Smith later referred to the team's "leadership group" as being behind the plan, not the coaches, but Hussain would like to hear an explanation from Lehmann.

Hussain said: "It doesn't look good on Lehmann either way, really. If he did know then he's in a whole heap of trouble and will not be able to hold his job down if he is condoning cheating and (the) scratching of a cricket ball.

"If he didn't know, then questions will be asked as to why senior players are going round not telling the coach exactly what is going on.

"In the dressing rooms I've played in, it is inconceivable that the coach wouldn't know something like this was being dreamt up."

The make-up of the "leadership group" has not been defined but Hussain would also like to hear from other senior players.

He said: "The silence has been deafening actually, not just from Lehmann and (David) Saker, the bowling coach, but also from David Warner.

"David Warner seems to have a lot to say on a cricket field; in the last 48 hours the silence from David Warner has been deafening."

Former Australia coach John Buchanan says it is not common for a coach not to know what plans his players have on the field.

Buchanan said: "It is unusual as the teams are walking out that the coach is unaware of what's about to happen.

"Generally it will be the coach and captain, in the last couple of minutes before they go to the field, who will be saying, 'These are the sort of things we want to do and put in place when we get out on the field'."

Ian Botham, the former England all-rounder, also wants to hear explanations.

Botham said: "There are a lot of questions to be answered.

"What on earth possesses you to do something so stupid is beyond me. There's so much talk about it - how far does it go, how deep does it go?

"The players are saying that the management weren't involved which I hope is true. I don't think this decision was made by (just) Smith and (vice-captain David) Warner - so who else was involved?"

Marcus North is disappointed by the actions of the team.

The former Australia batsman said: "You get a bit emotional about it, and that's not trying to sound over the top. Cheating in sport, certainly in Australian culture, is an absolute no-no.

"This incident, I think someone has said before, is one of the darkest days in Australian cricket."

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