Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has finally broken his silence on the ball tampering scandal that has tarnished the image of his side.
Australia captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were all involved in the incident, which took place on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Cricket Australia subsequently banned Smith and Warner for 12 months, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months. In addition to this, Smith is not allowed to captain for two years, while Warner won’t be considered for leadership roles in the future.
Lehmann was cleared of being involved in the scandal after speculation put him right in the centre of it as he was seen talking to substitute fielder Peter Handscomb through a walkie-talkie.
Explaining what happened, Lehmann said he told Handscomb to alert Bancroft that he looked to be doing something suspicious when he appeared on the big screen.
“The first I saw of it was on that screen and I went straight on the walkie-talkie and said something to Peter,” Lehmann was quoted as saying by Sport24. “There were a couple of expletives in there. Then I spoke to some of the players at tea time and said we’d deal with it at the end of play, which obviously happened through the process.”
Lehmann is confident that this is the first time his side have tampered with the ball. He also called on the cricketing community to forgive Smith, Warner and Bancroft for their actions.
“They have made a grave mistake, but they are not bad people. As a coach you feel for them … they are hurting, and I feel for them and their families,” he said. “There is a human side of this. They have made a mistake as everyone, including myself, has made mistakes in the past. Their health and well-being is extremely important to us.”
Lehmann also admitted that Australia’s team culture needs a drastic shake-up in the wake of the incident.
“The team has been perceived quite negatively in recent times and there is a need for us to change some of the philosophies about the way and how we play,” he said. “From this point forward, we need to work to earn the respect back from all our fans.
“I’d like to apologise to the Australian public and the cricket family. What happened on Saturday is not something that is acceptable, especially from the Australian cricket team.
“As has been made clear by (CEO) James (Sutherland) yesterday and today, the coaches and support staff had no prior knowledge of the incident.
“Like all of Australia we are extremely disappointed and we know we have let so many people down and for that I am truly sorry.”