Cricket Australia (CA) on Wednesday (March 28) reacted severely on its players for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked the entire cricketing fraternity on the third day of the recently concluded Cape Town Test against South Africa. CA banned skipper Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner for 12 months, while Cameron Bancroft was handed a 9-month suspension from international cricket.
Aside from the sanction on players, cricket fans were expecting some serious action on the under-fire coach Darren Lehmann as he was seen sending a message out onto the field by talking to substitute Peter Handscomb via walkie talkie before cameras caught Bancroft dropping the piece of sandpaper under his trousers.
However, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland on Wednesday clarified that Lehmann had absolutely no idea about the incident and he was as surprised as the thousands of spectators in the Newlands stadium. Sutherland further went on to say that the Aussie coach had used the walkie talkie to ask Hanscomb “What the hell is going on?” rather than to tell Bancroft that he had been spotted with a piece of sandpaper.
"Darren Lehmann is the coach, he was in no way involved. He continues as coach. I have spoken to all three players as they left. The players are very sad, disappointed and remorseful about what has happened," Sutherland said while addressing the media.
"In Darren's defence i want to clarify, he sent a message to say 'what in the hell is going on?' He didn't use hell he used another word. Darren made those comments and Ian was satisfied he knew nothing of the plan," he added.
Sutherland said Cricket Australia had arrived at their conclusions after a thorough investigation.
"As you know we have offered sanctions to the 3 players that I advised last night that were reported under the code of conduct. Today they have travelled home to Australia,” the CA chief said.
"It is with deep regret we are in the position, it gives us no joy. The process we have worked through has been exhaustive. We have arrived at decisions that we feel are of an appropriate measure," he explained.
Cricket Australia also stated that each player will have to complete 100 hours of community service before being considered for future selection. While Smith and Bancroft will have to wait two years before they are considered for leadership roles, Warner will never again be considered for captaincy as he was found to be the instigator of the plan.
While the convicted trio of Smith, Warner and Bancroft are still eligible to compete in club cricket they can’t take part in state or international games for the duration of their suspensions.