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We need to change, I must change, Lehmann admits

Cricket

Distraught and disappointed coach Darren Lehmann admits both he and Australia’s cricket team have to change, vowing to oversee a cultural overhaul in response to the ball-tampering scandal.

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Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland and Lehmann have promised to dig in and disinfect a competitive streak that turned turned toxic in Cape Town, where three players conspired to cheat on Saturday.

CA will soon conduct an independent review into the team’s culture and conduct. Lehmann’s influence will be examined but at this stage he enjoys the full support of Sutherland.

The governing body’s investigation found the coach wasn’t aware of David Warner’s plan to illegally scuff the ball with sandpaper.

Lehmann has long planned to leave the job when his current contract expires at the end of the 2019 Ashes in England, which follows a World Cup in the same country.

The former Test batsman was uncharacteristically emotional when he addressed journalists overnight in Johannesburg, reading a prepared statement then struggling to remain composed while detailing concerns for a shamed trio “going through a really rough time”.

Warner, who CA claim orchestrated the ball-tampering ploy, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have all been charged.

Sacked leaders Smith and Warner will miss a full year of intentional cricket if they accept the sanctions.

It is a high price to be paid by the side’s two best batsmen, some have opined too high, but a clear signal of intent from the organisation that controls Australia’s national sport.

“We need to change how we play and within the boundaries we play. Obviously previously we’ve butted heads on the line, but that’s not the way to go,” Lehmann said.

“I need to change.

“We need to work to earn the respect back from all our fans.

“The team has been received quite negatively in recent times and there is a need for us to change some of the philosophies.

“Like all of Australia, we are extremely disappointed and as a team we know we have let so many people down and for that I am truly sorry.”

Lehmann added “I’m not going to resign”.

Sutherland expressed the same sentiment, noting “I’ve got a job to do and this only strengthens my resolve to help the game”.

He wants a “deep and far-ranging” review of the climate that prompted three players to make life-changing mistakes.

“He (Lehmann) feels some sort of personal responsibility for that. We all do. This is a terrible situation,” Sutherland said.

“We cannot have this happen again.

“There is a rebuild that needs to happen to reinstate the faith and the confidence and the pride that the Australian public had, and should have, in the Australian cricket team.

“You’ve got to go back to the core and find out what the little things are and address them.”

Former Australian cricket captain Steve Smith is escorted by police through OR Thamb International Airport in Johannesburg. Photo: EPA/Muzi Ntombela

Australia have upset fans and foes alike in recent years with an aggressive approach endorsed by Lehmann, but he now wants players to look across the Tasman for inspiration.

“If we take a leaf out of someone, like say New Zealand’s book,” Lehmann said.

“The way they play and respect the opposition.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re respecting the game, its traditions.”

– AAP

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