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Quitting right thing to do for sake of game in Australia: Lehmann

 

By David Clough

Darren Lehmann will leave his post as Australia's head coach after the fourth Test against South Africa, which begins today.

Cricket Australia confirmed his resignation, which had appeared unlikely when it was announced earlier in the week that he would remain in his post under the terms of his contract.

That deal was due to run until the end of the 2019 Ashes series in England, but now Lehmann has joined the casualties of Australia's Cape Town debacle.

Earlier yesterday, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft both repeated their apologies for their part in the Australia ball-tampering scandal as cricket's international governing body announced a wide-ranging review into the behaviour of players.

Smith and Bancroft fought back tears as they faced the media, with former captain Smith in Sydney and Bancroft in Perth.

Lehmann said: "I'm ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I've been thinking about my position for a while.

"Despite telling media I'm not resigning, after reviewing Steve and Cameron's hurting it's only fair that I make this decision.

"This will allow Cricket Australia to complete a full review into the culture of the team and allow them to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public.

"This is the right thing for Australian cricket."

David Warner, the third cricketer banned for the third Test ball-tampering plot which he devised, said on Twitter that his plan was a "stain on the game".

An investigation into the ball-tampering by Cricket Australia had cleared Lehmann, with Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland saying on Tuesday the coach had no prior knowledge of the plot.

Lehmann, though, accepted that "as a team we know we've let so many people down and for that we're truly sorry."

The Australia coach also moved to stress while the three men involved "must face serious consequences" and had "made a grave mistake", they "are not bad people".

Bancroft was caught on TV rubbing the ball with sandpaper during the Cape Town Test against South Africa at the weekend. It emerged the conspiracy was Warner's idea and involved the "leadership group" that included Smith and Bancroft.

Smith and Warner have been banned from international and domestic cricket for 12 months, while Bancroft was hit with a nine-month suspension for his role by Cricket Australia.

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson said the review has been launched following "one of the worst periods in recent memory for consistently poor player behaviour and the global outcry in relation to the ball tampering is a clear message to cricket: enough is enough".

Meanwhile, county side Somerset have announced that Bancroft will no longer be joining them as their overseas player this summer.

Director of cricket Andy Hurry confirmed that, while the Australian was still keen to join the team, the county made the decision not to follow through.

That means Bancroft won't face Ireland, who are due to take on Somerset in a four-day match at Taunton starting next week.

However, Hurry did say the county wouldn't rule out signing Bancroft again in the future once his ban had been served.

Belfast Telegraph

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