Australian cricket ball tampering: coach Darren Lehmann reportedly set to resign – live!

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Australian cricket ball tampering: coach Darren Lehmann reportedly set to resign – live!” was written by Naaman Zhou, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 27th March 2018 08.40 Asia/Kolkata

The fallout from the incident has also created a rift in the team, according to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

The paper have reported that bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are angry at Smith for suggesting they knew of the plan as part of the much discussed “leadership group”. One of the pair reportedly contacted the player’s union, the Australian Cricketers Association, to ask for help in clearing their names.

Who is in line to replace Lehmann, Smith and Warner if, as expected, all three resign or are suspended?

Justin Langer, the current head coach of Western Australia, will be “fast-tracked” into the job, according to The Australian. Langer had been tipped to take over from Lehmann in 2019.

“The other options include assistants Brad Haddin and David Saker, but there is an expectation CA will opt for a cleanout of staff,” The Australian’s Peter Lalor wrote.

Among the players, it seems wicket-keeper Tim Paine has become the unexpected front runner to take over as captain. Paine, one of the older players in the side, has been appointed interim captain for the rest of the test.

Other names being mooted are: all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, batsman George Bailey and young fast bowler Pat Cummins.

Updated

But we return now, unfortunately to the division and disgrace.

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has again blasted the cheating that took place in South Africa.

“It’s been a shocking affront to Australia,” he told reporters in Canberra. “How many of us as children, and as fathers and mothers who have had children, looked up to the Australian team?

“This cheating is a disgrace. We all know that … And Cricket Australia is dealing with it, they have to investigate it and they have to continue to act decisively and emphatically.

“Where do we want to go? We want to get to the point where we can all say once again, not rhetorically, but heartfelt and with sincerity, that cricket is a fair game.”

Here’s the first reader email of the day!

Susan O’Sullivan writes:

Let’s shift the focus to the best of Australian cricket – the Australian women’s cricket team. Sanitarium should sponsor them and Qantas should shift a large part of sponsorship there

Agreed Susan. Watch below as Megan Schutt became the first Australian woman to claim an international T-20 hat-trick, as the team beat India in Mumbai.

Fox Sports reporter Tom Morris has told the channel that Lehmann’s resignation is coming, and will be a disappointing end to his reign after he oversaw this year’s Ashes win.

“He’s not a stupid person, Darren Lehmann, he can read the tea leaves,” Morris said. “It looks as if he won’t be the coach going forward.”

He said the focus now will be on Lehmann to “set the record straight” and clear up how much he did or didn’t know about the supposed “leadership group” plan in South Africa.

Readers may remember that back in January, Smith faced accusations of ball tampering during the ODI against England, which he denied.

Critics suggested he had wiped lip balm or a similar substance on the ball, but Smith insisted it was just spit.

“It was all spit,” he said. “It’s the way I get spit from the side of my mouth and on the ball … People said something about lip balm. If you look at my lips, they’re pretty dry.”

Here’s the schedule for today, for those confused as to what will happen to Darren Lehmann and when:

  • In about an hour, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland will land in Johannesburg (5am South Africa time)
  • He will meet with officials, players and Lehmann, who have travelled from Cape Town
  • We don’t know how long the meetings will take, but afterwards, an announcement will be made concerning Lehmann’s position and the fate of Steve Smith and David Warner

And here’s how we got here:

  • An overnight exclusive from the UK’s Daily Telegraph revealed that Lehmann had tendered his resignation to CA late last night.
  • On Sunday, CA’s head of integrity, Iain Roy, was sent to South Africa to interview the players and prepare a report into the ball tampering incident
  • Cricket Australia have refused to comment, but the Telegraph reported that Sutherland’s flight to South Africa was spurred by Lehmann’s resignation

Updated

This could be the final straw, writes Paul Connolly, hot off the press with a fantastic meditation on this week’s scandal and how it reflects a broader issue in Australian sporting culture.

Like many others I’ve spoken to, I simply became turned off by their ugly, envelope-pushing aggression which hasn’t abated … I’ve played a lot of sport in my life and despite never competing at a particularly high level I became well acquainted with the hyper-aggressive Australian male, the one for whom competitiveness and arseholery seem to be mutually inclusive.

It’s a point echoed by former batsman Ed Cowan, appearing on Fox Sports earlier.

“I’ve been on this show the past two weeks and all we talk about is sledging [and] boofish behaviour,” he said. “This is just another point in a whole data set.”

How are the Australian papers covering the scandal as it rolls on to day three?

Most NewsCorp papers are running an arresting front page of former all-rounder Trevor Chappell, grim-faced and in a thin grey henley, declaring that he is “no longer the most hated man in cricket”.

“It’s a real relief I can finally drop the title,” he said. “I haven’t been able to shake it off, what happened to me, in 37 years.”

Chappell, who went down in infamy for his 1981 underarm delivery against New Zealand, said Smith and Bancroft would be forever tarnished.

“They will struggle for the rest of their lives and be known as the ones who brought Australian cricket into disrepute.”

The Fairfax papers are leading with the news, covered further down the blog, that vice-captain David Warner “led the cheating conspiracy”.

For the best of the rest from previous days, read on below:

Updated

South African broadcaster SuperSport have denied a widely-shared report that they were tipped off about Australia’s ball tampering ahead of time.

On Saturday, SuperSport captured the crucial footage of Cameron Bancroft’s ill-fated attempt to hide his sticky tape down his pants, prompting Smith’s admission of cheating.

On Sunday, former South African test bowler Fanie de Villiers told local radio he had predicted the ball tampering and told the station to follow and film Bancroft.

“We actually said to our cameramen, ‘go out have a look boys, they’re using something,’” he said.

But Alvin Naicker, SuperSport’s head of production, says they were not tracking Bancroft and hadn’t been tipped off.

“We don’t want it to seem like we are going after the Australian team,” he said. “If that was a South African, we would have broadcast the footage”

He said the station only suspected something after Bancroft tried to awkwardly drop the bright yellow tape into his clothes.

“It was only when he later panicked and put it in his underpants that we got sight of the yellow tape … Until then, we were not sure what we were looking at”.

If you’d like to read what may be the definitive takedown from a former player, go no further than Jason Gillespie’s opinion piece from yesterday.

Australian cricket will survive this and provided there is some honesty with the camp, it will hopefully emerge in better shape. New leaders will rise up and take the side forward. But it will not be Smith and it will not be Warner.

On Fox Sports Australia, we’re hearing that as of last night, Lehmann was determined to stay on.

Commentators are in the dark, but according to NewsCorp journalist Richard Earle “something major” must have changed the head coach’s mind.

“From the Lehmann camp last night, he did not expect to have to resign,” Earle said. “Whatever happened between last night and now – I guess we’ll find out.

“I can tell you he believes he has done nothing wrong. Something major must have happened overnight for this to break.”

We’re still waiting on more information on Lehmann’s purported resignation, but it’s undeniable that pressure has been mounting on the head coach for days.

A range of current and former players, from Australia and abroad, have called his position untenable.

Former Australian test cricketer Simon Katich called for his head – as well as Smith’s and Warner’s – on Sunday.

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen weighed in, and South Africa’s Dale Steyn agreed.

Former England player, and now commentator, David Lloyd wrote for Skysports.com that “Australia seem totally out of control with no leadership of management — either captaincy or coach or chief executive”.

In case you missed it, have a read of Barney Ronay’s excellent take on the saga from this morning.

Darren Lehmann … has overseen an infantilised team culture where such a plot was so easily conceived and where fear of being discovered by good old Boof was clearly not much of an issue. Nothing less than the sack will do for Lehmann. He should be profoundly embarrassed already, although past conduct suggests this may not be the case.

In one of the lone voices of dissent, Australian cricketer Moises Henriques has defended Steve Smith.

Henriques took to Twitter to share his alternate theory – that there was no “leadership group” meeting and no clear plan. He speculated that Smith was covering for batsman Cameron Bancroft in “10 minutes of panic”.

Cricket Australia’s major sponsor, the airline Qantas, has called on the body to “do the right thing” at an event at the Australian High Commission in London.

According to the Australian newspaper, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made a strong statement at a function where all anybody could talk about was Smith and the ball tampering scandal.

Joyce said he had told Cricket Australia’s chairman and chief executive they “need to address this now” and make “a statement to the rest of the world”.

The Dublin-born Joyce clarified that Qantas was not actually threatening to pull sponsorship.

However one of Steve Smith’s personal sponsors, Weet-Bix manufacturer Sanitarium, had sterner words.

A spokeswoman said his behaviour was “a shameful and very sad moment for Australian sport”.

Erstwhile vice-captain David Warner may have played a bigger role in the ball tampering plan than previously realised, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald are reporting.

Warner, who like Smith was stood down for the rest of the series, has been labelled “the central character” by the SMH’s Chris Barrett.

Fox Sports Australia added that he was “strongly rumoured” to have played “a major role in concocting the plan.” But those close to the vice-captain deny that he was the brains behind the operation.

Smith has consistently told media that it was the team’s “leadership group” that developed and approved the strategy – but it’s unclear how many players that includes.

We’re trying to get hold of Cricket Australia to confirm the overnight report from the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

However their phones, understandably, are running quite hot.

The Telegraph’s exclusive claimed “sources in Australia” tipped them off that Lehmann intended to stand down with immediate effect. They say Lehmann told CEO James Sutherland of his decision on Monday.

Prior to the whole ball tampering scandal, Lehmann had already decided to leave his post after the 2019 World Cup. Australia’s news.com.au are reporting that Justin Langer, the Western Australia coach, has been approached by Cricket Australia to step in as an interim coach.

Darren Lehmann to quit – reports

Hello there. Australia is waking up to reports that Darren Lehmann, the coach, will resign from his position in the next 24 hours, as the ball tampering scandal that has rocked the sport appears set to claim its first victim.

The coach’s position has come under intense scrutiny since captain Steve Smith’s admission that his team conspired to tamper with the ball during the third Test in Cape Town.

CA CEO James Sutherland will land in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning local time to join head of integrity Iain Roy and performance manager Pat Howard, who have been tasked with undertaking an investigation into the incident. A press conference is expected that evening when sanctions against Smith, his vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are likely to be announced.

The report in the UK’s Daily Telegraph claimed Lehmann had already tendered his resignation, a move that in part prompted Sutherland to fly to South Africa on Monday.

Smith and his vice-captain David Warner have been stood down from the remainder of the current Test, pending the internal investigation into the incident.

Lehmann has insisted he had no prior knowledge of the ball tampering plan, but has come under fierce criticism as the veracity of those claims were tested. The overall culture of his team has also come under the microscope in the wake of the incident, leading many to call for his head.

Stay with us for developments.

Updated

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Australian cricket ball tampering: coach Darren Lehmann reportedly set to resign – live! | NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).