Australia coach Darren Lehmann has announced that the fourth Test against South Africa will be his last.
Just two days of being absolved of any blame in the ball-tampering scandal, the bullish head coach said: ‘Even though I had no prior knowledge [of the ball tampering] my family has copped a lot of criticism and the time is right to step down.’
Three players – Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – were banned for attempting to alter the condition of the ball during the third Test at Newlands, and for bringing the game into disrepute.
‘After seeing events in the media today with Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, the feeling is that Australian cricket needs to move forward and this is the right thing to do. I really feel for Steve as I saw him crying in front of the media and all the players are really hurting.’
After watching Steve Smith’s tearful and heart-wrenching press conference, he decided he could not continue as coach.
‘I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I’ve been thinking about my position in the team for a while. Despite telling media yesterday that I’m not resigning, after reviewing Steve and Cameron’s parting, it’s only fair that I make this decision.
‘Let’s hope Cricket Australia can make a full review on the culture of the team and allow them to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public.
‘Saying goodbye to the players was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.’
It is known the coach was greatly affected by the punishment handed out to the three. In a statement on Wednesday evening, he had said: ‘I worry about those three guys immensely, we love all our players and they are going through a really tough time.’
Lehmann, whose contract ran until the end of the 2019 Ashes, came under scrutiny when he was seen talking via radio to the 12th man Peter Handscomb when the ball tampering was being exposed on the big screen at Newlands. He was later confirmed that he had called to ask: ‘What the f**k is going on?’
He confirmed later that he had called the team together during the tea break, when they told him they had been using sticky tape and dirt to rough up the ball. It was later established they had used sandpaper. Only three players were involved, said Cricket Australia.
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