Australia cricket scandal: Darren Lehmann set to resign

Head coach expected to become the first casualty of the ball-tampering controversy

Australia cricket cheating Darren Lehmann Steve Smith
Australia cricket captain Steve Smith and head coach Darren Lehmann
(Image credit: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann is expected to resign in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal that has rocked international cricket.

The Daily Telegraph reports this morning that Lehmann will announce his resignation in the next 24 hours and will become the “first casualty” of the cheating storm.

According to the Telegraph’s sources down under, Lehmann is “ready to stand down with immediate effect” once he has met with Cricket Australia’s chief executive James Sutherland, who has flown to South Africa to see players and coaching staff today.

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The scandal erupted on Saturday when Australia’s Cameron Bancroft was caught by television cameras using yellow tape on the ball during the third Test in Cape Town. He then hid the tape down his trousers.

In a press conference at the end of the day’s play Australia captain Steve Smith, who has been suspended for the fourth Test in Johannesburg, admitted that Bancroft had been told to tamper with the ball by the team’s “senior leadership” group.

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Captain Smith and vice-captain David Warner are facing 12-month bans, The Times reports, and both are likely to be permanently stripped of their positions when Cricket Australia announces the outcome of its investigation.

As well as his one-match Test ban, Smith has also resigned as captain of Indian Premier League side the Rajasthan Royals.

Bancroft could also face a ban, but the Times adds that it is “expected to be a much shorter one given his relatively junior status in the team and his admission of guilt and remorse”.

The Times adds that some of the team’s key sponsors, including airline Qantas and cereal brand Sanitarium, are “considering pulling the plug on their involvement with the sport”. A Sanitarium spokesman said: “The actions taken by the team in South Africa don’t align with our own values - Sanitarium does not condone cheating in sport.”

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Did ball tampering take place during the Ashes?

Australia beat England 4-0 in the Ashes this winter and following this week’s ball-tampering incident questions are being asked if there was any cheating during the series.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan says he is “pretty sure” that Australia were ball-tampering during the Ashes, but it was not the reason why England were thrashed down under.

Vaughan told the BBC: “I cannot think that has been come up with over lunch in Cape Town. I look at the amount of tape some of the fielders have worn, particularly during the Ashes series at mid-on and mid-off. You don’t have to name names, they know who they are.

“I am pretty sure it was going on throughout the Ashes series - but it was not the reason England lost 4-0. They still would have lost the series.”

Meanwhile, England’s current skipper Joe Root does not suspect any cheating happened during the Ashes. He told The Guardian: “Not to my knowledge. I personally wasn’t aware of anything going on throughout that series. I have enough to worry about at the moment. All this is disappointing for Test cricket and for cricket in general.”

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