Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will leave South Africa on Wednesday in the wake of their pre-meditated plan to tamper with the ball on the third day of the Cape Town Test against South Africa. They will be told of their “significant” Cricket Australia code of behaviour sanctions within 24 hours.
However the investigation of the CA head of integrity, Iain Roy, found that the coach Darren Lehmann had no prior knowledge of the ball-tampering plan. This is despite the fact he was captured on television footage sending a message to Bancroft via the 12th man Peter Handscomb, leading to Bancroft attempting to hide the adhesive tape he had been using to rough up the ball. James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, said Lehmann would remain under contract and had not resigned his post.
Australia named Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns as replacements for the fourth Test in Johannesburg starting on Friday. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who led the team on the fourth day of the Newlands Test after Smith and Warner were stood down as captain and vice-captain, becomes the Test team’s 46th leader but his further tenure will depend on the sanctions handed to Smith and Warner. The team, still reeling from events of the past few days and the Australian public’s furious response, will not train at the Wanderers on Wednesday despite the Test beginning on Friday.
“I think it’s an issue of great proportion because of the standing of cricket in the eyes of the Australian public and, not only that, the Australian cricket team and I think that response is not terribly surprising,” Sutherland said. “It’s a reminder of how important the game of cricket is to the Australian cricket fans, and it’s also a reminder to us how important it is to rebuild that confidence and trust and pride in the Australian cricket team going forward.”
The decision to send Smith, Warner and Bancroft home was taken by the CA Board and announced by Sutherland following tremendous pressurefrom back home, including from the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and the universal outrage of sponsors and followers of the game in Australia. Sutherland also apologised for the Australian team’s conduct at Newlands.
“From the Prime Minister down there have been views and opinions expressed, and that’s a measure and indication of the standing of the game of cricket and the Australian cricket team in the eyes of the Australian public and everyone is entitled to those opinions,” Sutherland said. “On balance, we need to make a judgement that’s in the best interests of the game and that will be based on a whole lot of things. The Prime Minister’s comments are one of only hundreds and thousands and millions of Australian views and opinions, and we need to make decisions that are in the best interests of the game.”
Sutherland said the CA investigation had found that only Smith, Warner and Bancroft had been in on the plot to tamper with the ball, and would be sanctioned accordingly. Should the players challenge their charges of conduct contrary to the laws and spirit of the game, hearings will be held with an independent commissioner, in which they will be entitled to legal representation.
The Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson confirmed that the players’ union would be providing that legal assistance . “The players are remorseful for the mistakes they have made,” he said, “and they regret how their actions have represented themselves, team mates, cricket and their country. The ACA is providing legal and welfare support to all players. Welfare of all players is a highly relevant consideration.”
In making this finding, Roy confirmed the strong contentions of the bowlers Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon that they had no knowledge of the plan, and also contradicted the apparent version of events delivered by Warner, which suggested far wider knowledge within the dressing room. Sutherland said he was “not aware” of differences in the team about what had happened and was “unsure of the relevance” of it.