UK newspaper The Telegraph reports that the South Australian is expected to quit the team in the next 24 hours and it’s the reason why Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has flown to South Africa.
CA’s integrity chief Iain Roy and team performance manager Pat Howard have arrived in South Africa and started their formal review of skipper Steve Smith’s cheating confession that rocked world cricket.
Sutherland, who is under immense pressure to strip Smith of the captaincy, will meet with Roy and Howard on Tuesday before discussing likely punishments with CA’s board.
CA chairman David Peever says an announcement regarding the findings of the inquiry will be made on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
“The Cricket Australia Board has been fully updated on the issue and supports James travelling to South Africa to manage the response to the investigation currently underway.
“We expect to be able to fully update the Australian public on the findings on Wednesday morning (Tuesday evening in Johannesburg).
“We understand that everyone wants answers, but we must follow our due diligence before any further decisions are made,” said Peever.
Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught using tape to interfere with the ball during the third Test at Newlands before Smith admitted the team’s leadership group had agreed to the idea at an explosive press conference.
Smith has since been slapped with a one-Test ban by the International Cricket Council and will miss the spiteful four-Test series finale that starts in Johannesburg on Friday, with Australia 2-1 down.
Australia’s cricketing culture under the supervision of Lehmann has been under renewed scrutiny.
According to Smith, Lehmann and the rest of the coaching staff were not privy to the plan for Bancroft to use sticky tape in an illegal attempt to change the condition of the ball.
Lehmann is nonetheless a lightning rod for criticism among an Australian public increasingly fed-up with the team’s behaviour.
He has not spoken publicly since the ball tampering scandal erupted.
An often-jovial figure who has sought to lighten up the Australian dressing room, Lehmann has also been accused of allowing an aggressive team mentality to go largely unchecked.
During the 2013 Ashes – his first series in charge – Lehmann accused Stuart Broad of “blatant cheating” for refusing to walk when he edged a ball to the keeper during the first Test.
“From my point of view, I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and I hope he cries and he goes home,” Lehmann said ahead of the home Ashes series later that year.
Australia’s 2014 tour of South Africa was marred by sledging which led Faf du Plessis to liken the visitors to a “pack of dogs”, while last year’s tour of India and the most recent Ashes series were also spiteful affairs.
David Warner was more recently sanctioned for an enraged off-field confrontation with Quinton de Kock, while Nathan Lyon copped a fine for his ‘ball drop’ send-off of AB de Villiers.
The incidents in Durban prompted a public rebuke from Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, who admitted the Australian players had not acted within the spirit of the game.
Sutherland noted at the time that Australia had been far from the worst offenders under the ICC Code of Conduct during Smith’s captaincy.
That will count for little in light of the far more serious transgressions that have come to light in Cape Town.
Former players are calling for Lehmann to be held accountable.
Former Test captain Michael Clarke said the revelations would reflect poorly on Lehmann, who will finish up in the job after next year’s Ashes series, regardless of whether he knew about the plan.
“My fear is, if that’s the case (that he didn’t know), then the Australian head coach hasn’t got control of this Australian team,” Clarke said on the Nine Network.
“And if he does know about it, then he’s as accountable as anybody else.”
Former Test batsman Simon Katich says Lehmann must go, along with Smith and Warner.
“I think when Cricket Australia front the media, they’ve got no option but to stand and then sack Smith, Warner and Lehmann,” Katich said on SEN Radio.
– with AAP
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