Ball-tampering row: Cricket Australia sends Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft back home; coach Darren Lehmann gets clean chit
Tim Paine will captain Australia in the final Test match with reinforcements in middle-order batsman Glenn Maxwell along with openers Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw scheduled to arrive today.
JOHANNESBURG: The embattled trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will be sent home in disgrace tomorrow as Cricket Australia came down heavily on their errant captain, his deputy and young opener for orchestrating a ball-tampering conspiracy against South Africa, sullying the image of a cricket loving nation.
However, chief coach Darren Lehmann has been given a clean chit for the time being, as Cricket Australia concluded its preliminary investigations today.
Tim Paine will captain Australia in the final Test match with reinforcements in middle-order batsman Glenn Maxwell along with openers Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw scheduled to arrive tomorrow.
"All three players (Smith, Warner, Bancroft) that have been reported will leave tomorrow. Renshaw, Maxwell and Burns will arrive in South Africa in the next 24 hours," CA chief executive James Sutherland told a packed media conference here this evening.
"Time Paine has been officially appointed captain of the Test team," he added.
Sutherland informed that apart from the trio, no other player in the group had any prior knowledge about the wrongdoing.
"Contrary to inaccurate reports, Darren has not resigned. He had no prior knowledge," confirmed Sutherland.
Questioned whether Lehmann offered to resign, Sutherland replied: "As far as I am aware no he has not, at least not to me."
"No other players or support staff had prior knowledge and this includes coach Darren Lehmann who had no prior knowledge. He will continue to coach the national team under his current contract," said the former first-class player.
He made it clear that tough sanctions awaited the trio after full inquiry is complete.
"We are contemplating significant sanctions in each case of the three players. These sanctions will reflect the gravity of what occurred and the damage it has done Australian cricket. Urgency must be balanced with due process.We have conducted an investigation, we have made reports and sanctions will be issued tomorrow. They will be significant. They will reflect the gravity of the situation," he added.
Sutherland said that he was angry but maintained that it was "an isolated incident of significant concern."
"I share the disappointment of the fans. We have had a board meeting today, Cricket Australia share these same feelings. I want to apologise to all Australians that this happened, particularly to all the kids that love cricket and idolise the players."
He said that he is aware about the impact of the damage done by the trio and corrective measures will be taken.
"I would not underestimate the damage this does to the game. What we are about as an organisation is cricket. If this has damaged the ability of cricket then it's a sorry state and we must do everything we can to repair it."
The ramifications of the scandal have been far reaching with the Marylebone Cricket Club, the guardian of the laws of the game, calling for a "major shift in attitude" to preserve the game for future generations.
Soon after both Smith and Bancroft admitted that they did try to tamper with the ball, with Smith stating that the 'Leadership group' was aware of it, the cricket fraternity condemned the players involved.
Bancroft was seen rubbing the ball with a yellow object (sandpaper) on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Bancroft then discussed the same with umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, but the umpires neither took any action nor changed the ball.