Sport

Darren Lehmann steps down as Australia coach over ball-tampering scandal

Australia cricket coach Darren Lehmann said Thursday he would quit after the final match of the scandal-tainted Test series in South Africa after the team's former captain Steve Smith broke down in tears and accepted complete responsibility for the ball-tampering incident.

However, Lehmann said that after watching the emotional press-conference of former captain Steve Smith, the team needs to move on.

"I am ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I have been thinking about my position for a while".

"This will allow Cricket Australia to make a full review into the culture of the team, and allow them to implement changes and regain the trust of the Australian public, this is the right thing for Australian cricket".

Holding one of his children and with his wife standing next to him with another, Warner said his priority was to "get these kids in bed, rest up, and let my mind be clear so I can talk to you in a couple of days". "I hope the team rebuilds and the Australian public can forgive the young men and get behind the XI", he said.

Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann walks through a police cordon at Cape Town International Airport.

Lehmann was set to step down when his current contract expired at the end of the 2019 Ashes, but the cheating scandal forced a rethink. Life on the road means a long time away from our loved ones and after speaking with them at length over the last few days, this is the right time to step away.

"That was the toughest thing I've ever had to do", Lehmann said.

Television footage showed Lehmann sending a message out onto the field before Bancroft dropped the piece of sandpaper he was clandestinely using to rough up the ball down his pants. At the time, he had been in charge of the Australia A team that was touring the British Isles, and when announcing the news Sutherland had described him as "the obvious choice to come in and replace Mickey" and a man "very highly regarded with cricket circles and certainly within the Australian cricket team".

CA had slapped one-year bans on Smith and Warner besides announcing a 9-month ban on the 25-year-old opener Bancroft for their involvement in tampering with the cricket ball during the Newlands Test against South Africa.

"Coaching the Australian cricket team is a real high and for me I'm looking forward to having some time off and what's the next step from there, I'd love to stay involved in the game because I love it so much".

A teary eyed Smith spoke to media for the first time since being given his 12 month ban in Sydney tonight.

"You're affecting your parents".

"To all of my teammates, to fans of cricket all over the world and to all Australians who are disappointed and angry, I'm sorry. It was a failure of leadership", he said, choking back tears as he was comforted by his father Peter. I'll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it's caused. "I'm absolutely gutted. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness".

"I'm confident it was an isolated issue and it was a grave mistake". I love the game of cricket.

Under Lehmann, Australia have played 57 Tests so far [Jo'burg game will be the 58th], winning 30 of them - including two home Ashes series victories.



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