Steve Smith should learn the “significant sanctions” he faces later on Wednesday as Australia coach Darren Lehmann prepared to face the media for the first time in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.
Tim Paine has already been appointed captain after Smith was told he was being sent home from the tour of South Africa along with vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, who were also set to learn their punishment on Wednesday for their part in the affair.
A Cricket Australia investigation into who was involved in the process that led to Bancroft attempting to alter the condition of the ball with sticky tape during the third Test against South Africa was due to conclude on Wednesday.
Warner stepped down as captain of Indian Premier League franchise SunRisers Hyderabad on Wednesday, following Smith’s decision to quit as skipper of Rajasthan Royals on Monday.
CA chief executive James Sutherland revealed some preliminary findings during a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday – most notably that Bancroft, skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner were the only members of the Australia set-up involved in the plot.
All three players were due to return to Australia on Wednesday, with Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw and Glenn Maxwell called up as replacements for the fourth and final Test of the series.
Lehmann has been cleared by CA of involvement but that suggestion has drawn ridicule from former England captain Kevin Pietersen who has made his opinion clear on Twitter.
Lehmann never knew - 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) March 27, 2018
Iâve woken up this morning actually gutted for Smith, Warner & Bancroft.— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) March 28, 2018
Yes they were involved and will be sanctioned but Iâm afraid they werenât the only ones(& I donât think anyone else believes they were)...
I hope they get a fair trial.
Pietersen does not believe Lehmann was not aware of the ball-tampering plot and has expressed a belief that others were involved besides the their players.
He tweeted on Wednesday: “I’ve woken up this morning actually gutted for Smith, Warner & Bancroft.
“Yes they were involved and will be sanctioned but I’m afraid they weren’t the only ones(& I don’t think anyone else believes they were)…
“I hope they get a fair trial.”
Pride has not been a word remotely associated with Australian cricket this week, but Tim Paine's elevation to the Test captaincy has drawn a quiet sense of fulfillment for many in Tasmanian cricket https://t.co/mxCHqHrlNb pic.twitter.com/6Xb9m38fVR— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) March 28, 2018
Wicketkeeper Paine, who took over the captaincy from Smith mid-match as the scandal unfolded during the tourists’ heavy defeat in Cape Town, has been appointed as Test captain.
“I want to apologise to all Australians for what took place,” Sutherland told a press conference on Tuesday.
“The key finding is that prior knowledge of the ball-tampering incident was limited to three players – captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
“No other players or support staff had prior knowledge and this includes Darren Lehmann, who despite inaccurate media reports has not resigned from his position. He will continue to coach the Australia men’s team under his current contract.
“The three players on report, we are contemplating significant sanctions which will reflect the gravity of what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket.
“I fully understand the wish for urgency, however urgency must be balanced with due process.
“We’ll complete the process by tomorrow morning and in the next 24 hours we’ll be in a position to announce sanctions.”
Sutherland also moved to play down speculation that Australia’s players may have indulged in ball-tampering during their 4-0 Ashes win over England, stating that the Cape Town incident appeared to be isolated.
“The feeling from Iain (Roy, Cricket Australia’s head of integrity) in his review is that it’s an isolated incident, but again there are things that I don’t want to go into too much detail around right now,” he said.
“I certainly hope it’s an isolated incident, but it’s certainly one of significant concern.
“This is not in the laws of the game, it is not in the spirit of the game and I am angry and disappointed. It is not a good day for Australian cricket.”