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Lehmann survives, disgraced trio sent home


Darren Lehmann remains coach, but disgraced Australian cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will soon return home from South Africa as the fallout continues from the ball-tampering bombshell.

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Cricket Australia (CA) will finalise sanctions for Smith, Warner and Bancroft within the next 24 hours. The trio have been reported for breaching CA’s code of conduct.

Smith’s hold on the captaincy is extremely tenuous, with CA chief executive James Sutherland noting “it’s not appropriate at this stage” to comment whether Smith can ever lead the team again.

Warner will almost certainly be stripped of the vice-captaincy. The opener may have played his last game for Australia.

Bancroft is also facing a long ban, having carried out a premeditated plan to illegally scuff the ball during the third Test in Cape Town.

CA’s investigation is ongoing but all other players, coaches and support staff have been cleared by CA’s head of integrity Iain Roy.

Roy conducted a series of interviews in Cape Town alongside two International Cricket Council (ICC) integrity officers. It’s understood Warner suggested other members of the team were aware of the ploy.

Sutherland announced an independent review into the team’s conduct and culture, but indicated Lehmann will continue to coach “under his current contract”. That deal runs until the end of the 2019 Ashes.

“No other players or support staff had prior knowledge. This includes Darren Lehmann,” Sutherland said.

“Darren Lehmann has not offered to resign as far as I’m aware. Certainly not to me.”

Sutherland signalled his organisation’s intent to throw the book at Smith, Warner and Bancroft.

“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,” CA’s long-standing boss said.

“I fully understand the appetite for urgency for more detail.

“However, urgency must be balanced with due process given the serious implications for all involved.”

CA’s board has appointed Tim Paine the nation’s 46th Test captain, with the Tasmanian keeper to lead a new-look XI in the fourth Test against the Proteas that starts on Friday.

Current squad member Peter Handscomb is set to be recalled, while Matthew Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell are en route to South Africa as reinforcements.

Sutherland refused to acknowledge any of his players cheated despite repeated questions, also expressing confidence their misdeed was a one-off.

“The feeling from Iain from his review is that it’s an isolated incident,” he said.

“I certainly hope it’s an isolated incident.”

Sutherland has met with Smith, who donned sunglasses while being hounded by media packs at Cape Town and Johannesburg airports on Tuesday.

“He’s distraught. Very upset,” Sutherland said of the fresh-faced skipper, renowned for being an emotional character on and off the field.


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