The world has reacted with fury and suspicion after Australia’s cricket bosses ruled coach Darren Lehmann knew nothing of his side’s plan to cheat in South Africa.
Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were sent home in disgrace on Wednesday as the fallout from the ball-tampering scandal continues.
But many, including some of the game’s greats, find Cricket Australia’s verdict – that the trio were the only people aware of the disastrous plot – hard to believe.
‘Only 3 people knew… #MyA***,’ former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter, using a hashtag that is now trending.
The world has reacted with fury after Australia’s cricket bosses ruled coach Darren Lehmann knew nothing of his side’s plan to cheat in South Africa
Former England captain Michael Vaughan posted this on Twitter, using a hashtag that is now trending
Kevin Pietersen tweeted ‘Lehmann never knew,’ accompanied by 100 laughing and Pinocchio emojis
Another former England captain, Kevin Pietersen, tweeted: ‘Lehmann never knew,’ accompanied by 100 laughing and Pinocchio emojis.
Smith initially said the ‘leadership group’ were aware that Bancroft would attempt to tamper with the ball after lunch during day three of the third Test in Cape Town.
‘Cam Bancroft must be captaincy material… In the Leadership group in only his 7th Test!’ Vaughan added.
‘Me thinks the Hole has just got a little deeper & bigger for Cricket Australia.’
Warner (left) and Smith (right) – as well as Bancroft – were sent home in disgrace on Wednesday
Cameron Bancroft is pictured arriving at Cape Town International Airport
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said on Wednesday an investigation found no other players or support staff, including Lehmann, where involved in the scandal.
‘The key finding is that prior knowledge of the ball tampering incident was limited to three players,’ he said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
‘No other players or support staff had prior knowledge and this includes Darren Lehmann who has not resigned from his position and will continue to coach the team under his current contract.’
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke suggested the full story is yet to be revealed.
Cameron Bancroft was seen running his hand over the ball, before removing a yellow object from his pocket and placing it down the front of his trousers
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke suggested the full story is yet to be revealed
Clarke added: ‘The truth, The full story, Accountability and Leadership – until the public get this Australian cricket is in deep s***!’
‘Too many reputations on the line for the full story not to come out. Cape Town change room is a very small place!’ Clarke tweeted shortly after Sutherland’s press conference.
‘The truth, The full story, Accountability and Leadership – until the public get this Australian cricket is in deep s***!’
Meanwhile, Sutherland was repeatedly asked whether the side had cheated during what has been described as a ‘pathetic’ press conference addressing the scandal.
Nine times the word ‘cheat’, ‘cheating’ or ‘cheated’ came up in the bevy of questions fired at Sutherland, but not once did he himself use the term.
Michael Clarke, pictured with wife Kyly, said: ‘Too many reputations on the line for the full story not to come out’
David Warner sits on the team bus after arriving at Johannesburg Airport following their flight from Cape Town
David Warner and Candice Warner arrive ahead of the 2017 Allan Border Medal at The Star in Sydney
‘This is not in the laws of the game. It’s not in the spirit of the game, and again I am angry and disappointed,’ Sutherland replied, when the topic was first raised.
The journalist was undeterred, sending down a near-identical delivery, but Sutherland shouldered arms, again.
‘It’s not a good day for Australian cricket,’ he replied.
CA’s head of communications Tim Whittaker eventually asked journalists to move on, noting Sutherland had answered the question.
Cameron Bancroft talks to the umpire on the third day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia
Smith (pictured right with Cameron Bancroft) later admitted he and ‘the leadership group’ had given the green light to cheat
HOW AUSTRALIAN CRICKET FELL APART IN FOUR DAYS
‘I won’t be considering stepping down. I still think I’m the right the person for the job,’ Australia skipper Steve Smith said on March 24
MARCH 24: A four-Test series between Australia and South Africa is locked at 1-1, with the third Test in the balance on day three. The host broadcaster captures footage of Cameron Bancroft shining the ball with a yellow piece of tape then attempting to hide the evidence in his pants.
All hell breaks loose when Steve Smith fronts reporters after play, confessing it was a pre-mediated plan.
‘I won’t be considering stepping down. I still think I’m the right the person for the job,’ Australia skipper STEVE SMITH.
MARCH 25: Smith and Bancroft’s press conference is met with nation-wide outrage. Politicians, players, sponsors and supporters are furious.
Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland dispatches his high-performance boss Pat Howard and head of integrity Iain Roy to work out what the hell has happened.
Day four resumes at Newlands, where Australia capitulate in a record-breaking loss of 322 runs.
‘It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating,’ Prime Minister MALCOLM TURNBULL.
MARCH 26: Roy interviews players at the team hotel in Cape Town alongside two International Cricket Council integrity officers. Howard holds crisis talks with senior figures in the touring party. Smith is absolutely shattered.
David Warner sips champagne. Sutherland, under immense pressure to strip Smith of the captaincy, crosses the Indian Ocean. Chris Lynn, the Big Bash League’s biggest star, becomes the first high-profile figure to offer Smith strong public support.
‘I reckon every cricketer’s probably done it throughout their career in grade cricket or whatever level, but obviously not to that extent …. he hasn’t murdered anyone,’ Australia batsman CHRIS LYNN.
MARCH 27: Roy and Howard fly to Johannesburg and brief Sutherland. The investigation is ongoing but CA’s bigwigs are satisfied Smith, Warner and Bancroft were the only members of the touring partying who knew of the illegal plan.
CA’s board and Sutherland speak via teleconference, confirming Tim Paine will become the nation’s 46th Test skipper in the fourth Test against South Africa.
Smith officially remains captain but that title could be stripped when sanctions are finalised within the next 24 hours. An exhausted Sutherland fronts a press pack of almost 50 for approximately 20 minutes, confirming the disgraced trio are being sent home and Darren Lehmann remains coach.
‘We are contemplating significant sanctions in each case. These sanctions will reflect the gravity with which we view what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket,’ Cricket Australia chief executive JAMES SUTHERLAND.
Sutherland’s performance in a time of crisis wasn’t up to standard, according to Today show host Karl Stefanovic.
‘Let’s not beat around the bush. James Sutherland’s response this morning was pathetic,’ Stefanovic said.
‘He was questioned directly about cheating as you heard and refused to answer.
‘Questioned over and over and over and refused to answer. Why dodge it? It’s cheating plain and simple. Planned, premeditated cheating.’
He added: ‘James Sutherland’s response was at best weak. At worst, negligent. He must act or go.’
David Warner (pictured with wife Candice) was said to be emerging as the ‘chief conspirator’ in the ball tampering scandal
Smith was slapped with a one-Test ban by the International Cricket Council, then was sent home by Cricket Australia
THE ONE WORD MISSING FROM JAMES SUTHERLAND’S VOCABULARY
James Sutherland didn’t appear to be a fan of the c-word during his press conference
Reporter: James there is one word you haven’t mentioned. Did they cheat in your eyes? Is this cheating?
James Sutherland: This is not in the laws of the game, it’s not in the spirit of the game, and again.
Reporter (interrupting): Is it cheating though?
JS: I am angry and disappointed.
Reporter: Is it cheating?
JS: It’s not a good day for Australian cricket.
OTHER QUESTIONS FOLLOW BEFORE THE TOPIC IS RAISED AGAIN
Reporter: James, I noticed you wouldn’t use the cheating word. But if it wasn’t cheating, what was it? And have these guys apologised to their teammates as well?
JS: I don’t know about the second part of your question, but clearly we are not at all comfortable with what has taken place. We have conducted an investigation, we have made reports and sanctions will be issued tomorrow and they’ll be significant. And that will reflect the gravity of the situation.
Reporter: James, sorry to press you on this. We’ve come an awful long way to try and give us clarity on this and you’ve conducted interviews (with players). Can you not just give us a yes or no answer, is this cheating?
JS: This is not in the laws of the game, it’s not in the spirit of the game.
OTHER QUESTIONS FOLLOW BEFORE THE TOPIC IS RAISED AGAIN
Reporter: I just want to pin you down on this one James. You said they’ve broken the laws of the game, they’ve broken the spirit of the game. You haven’t mentioned the word cheating.
Cricket Australia official: Sorry, James has answered this question.
Reporter: No,no,no,no. They’ve broken the rules. Is it cheating?
CA official: He’s answered the question.
Reporter: No he hasn’t. He hasn’t.
CA official: He’s answered the question three times, we’re moving on.
Reporter: He hasn’t answered it!
Bancroft was caught on camera during the third Test in Cape Town using yellow tape to try to change the condition of the ball in order to help the Australian bowlers.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain has said it was ‘inconceivable’ Lehmann did not know of the plot.
‘It doesn’t look good on Lehmann either way, really,’ he told Sky Sports on Tuesday.
‘If he didn’t know, then questions will be asked as to why senior players are going round not telling the coach exactly what is going on.
‘In the dressing rooms I’ve played in, it is inconceivable that the coach wouldn’t know something like this was being dreamt up.’
Former Australian cricket vice-captain David Warner arrives at a hotel in Sandton, South Africa
Matt Renshaw pictured at Brisbane airport ahead of flying out following his call-up for the fourth Test in Johannesburg
KARL STEFANOVIC SLAMS JAMES SUTHERLAND’S RESPONSE TO THE DRAMA
Sutherland’s performance in a time of crisis wasn’t up to standard, according to Today show host Karl Stefanovic
‘Let’s not beat around the bush. James Sutherland’s response this morning was pathetic. He was questioned directly about cheating as you heard and refused to answer.
Questioned over and over and over and refused to answer. Why dodge it? It’s cheating plain and simple. Planned, premeditated cheating.
No actually punishments were handed down this morning at a time when the game needs strong and decisive leadership, and there are seemingly no ramifications for the coach.
Whether you know about it or not, in leadership there’s responsibility. Mistakes have been made. Admit them, own them and deal with them.
Accept the consequences and move on. There needs to be a clear message sent to every player, every fan, every young boy and girl in this country who loves sport that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
That message just wasn’t there this morning. James Sutherland’s response was at best weak. At worst, negligent. He must act or go.’
CA bosses have allegedly been told Warner ‘was the chief conspirator and that Smith foolishly agreed,’ to the plan, though sources close to the vice-captain deny he was the mastermind, according to a Fairfax report.
Smith and Warner could be hit with year-long suspensions from Cricket Australia, though life bans are unlikely.
Matthew Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns will replace the three suspended players for the fourth and final Test in the series, which hosts South Africa currently lead 2-1.
Caitlin Paris (left), the glamorous girlfriend of Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft (right), is has been targeted by vile trolls over her boyfriend’s role in the ongoing ball-tampering scandal
DAVID WARNER CRITICISED SOUTH AFRICA FOR BALL-TAMPERING IN 2016
Warner lectured: ‘I just know from an Australian cricket perspective, we hold our heads high and I’d be very disappointed if one of our team members did that’
Faf Du Plessis, the South African skipper, was fined for using saliva from a mint in his mouth to boost shine on the ball in a Test Match against Australia in Hobart in 2016.
After the game, Warner lectured: ‘I just know from an Australian cricket perspective, we hold our heads high and I’d be very disappointed if one of our team members did that.
‘If you’re going to overstep that mark and you get fined, be prepared to miss Test matches as well.’
He added: ‘The rules are in place for a reason, if you’re not gonna use them, then why bother having them?’
Two years later he has been sacked as vice-captain for his alleged involvement in rookie batsman Cameron Bancroft’s attempt to alter the ball with sticky tape to gain an advantage – causing fans to call him a hypocrite on social media.
Du Plessis twisted the knife on Sunday, saying Warner’s alleged involvement in the cheating was worse than his.
‘Ball shining versus ball tampering, they’re two very different situations – one is definitely much more serious than the other,’ he said.
Steve Smith and David Warner celebrate in the changerooms after Australia regained the Ashes this year. The future of both players is now uncertain
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland gestures during a ‘pathetic’ news conference
Sutherland said on Wednesday an investigation found no other players or support staff, including Lehmann (right with Smith), where involved in the scandal
HOW THE CHEATING SCANDAL UNFOLDED
The ball-tampering incident took place during the Saturday afternoon session in Cape Town and was picked up by TV cameras.
A small, yellow object was seen in batsman Cameron Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, the opener later revealing it to be a piece of tape covered in dirt.
He was later captured taking it from his pocket and placing it down his trousers, a few moments after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come onto the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann via walkie-talkie.
Although the two on-field umpires, Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong of England, questioned Bancroft at the time, he produced what appeared to be a black sunglasses bag from his right pocket in way of explanation, in a bid to deceive the officials.
‘Once I was sighted on the big screens I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers,’ said Bancroft.
No action was taken at the time — the umpires could have changed the ball or docked Australia runs — but match officials, including referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe, were able to review TV footage of the incident.
But after the day’s play, captain Steve Smith and Bancroft admitted the ball-tampering in a press conference.
Bancroft revealed: ‘We had a discussion during the (lunch) break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition — it didn’t work, the umpires didn’t change the ball.’
Smith continued: ‘It was a poor choice and we deeply regret our actions. The coaches weren’t involved. It was purely the leadership group who came up with this.
‘We saw this game as such an important game. We’ve seen the ball reversing through this series and this ball didn’t seem like it was going to go. It’s such poor actions. Deeply regrettable.’