Smith, Warner, Bancroft sent home, Lehmann stays as coach

by Garry Watts March 28, 2018, 0:16
Smith, Warner, Bancroft sent home, Lehmann stays as coach

Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland has arrived in Johannesburg for crisis talks and is expected to provide an update on Tuesday evening, United Kingdom time, with Warner's position, as well as that of captain Steve Smith and coach Darren Lehmann, thought to be at risk.

"Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft all are charged after it was found that they had prior knowledge of the ball tampering incident".

Smith, 28, was removed from the captaincy for the remainder of the third Test against South Africa on Sunday after the shock admission that he and senior team members had cooked up the ball-tampering plot.

"I think it's an issue of great proportion because of the standing of cricket in the eyes of the Australian public and, not only that, the Australian cricket team and I think that response is not terribly surprising", Sutherland said.

"In addition to sanctions for individuals, Cricket Australia will initiate an independent review into the conduct and culture of our Australian men's teams".

"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".

Sutherland, who began his press briefing in Johannesburg with heartfelt apologies to the Australian and South African cricketing fraternity and the rest of the world has promised that after Cricket Australia's probe is completed "significant sanctions" will be announced within the next 24 hours. Tim Paine has officially been appointed captain, at least for the fourth Test match.

Sutherland said that Smith, Warner and Bancroft have been charged for breaching Cricket Australia's code of conduct, and they will return to Australia on Wednesday.

Sutherland further informed that Matthew Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell will replace the three players charged in the Test squad.

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Details of their punishment are expected within the next 24 hours. "This is not a good day for Australian cricket".

"Ultimately, it is about whether Australians can feel proud of their national sporting teams".

"Winning is important but not at the expense of the laws or the spirit of the game", Sutherland said.

Captain Steve Smith, the other architect, has already been banned for one match by the ICC while the possibility of a life-time ban for Smith and Warner from the CA has also been mooted by a rabid Australian media.

"You've heard all sorts of stories about ball tampering; all these things have gone on over time and now is the time to draw a line".

Questions also remain over coach Darren Lehmann and how much he knew of the conspiracy and when.

Warner reportedly left a WhatsApp group with Australian players and angered his teammates by drinking champagne at their hotel bar - although he has now rejoined the social media chat.

Lehmann took over the coaching reins in 2013 when predecessor Mickey Arthur was sacked, with Justin Langer considered a frontrunner as his replacement although Ricky Ponting will also be in the mix.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reiterated on Tuesday that it had been "a shocking affront to Australia" and Cricket Australia must act "decisively and emphatically".

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