Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Australia cricket coach quits, captain breaks down in tears



Australia cricket coach quits, captain breaks down in tears

Darren Lehmann speaks to the press on Thursday as he announces he will resign as Australian cricket coach after the coming fourth Test in Johannesburg
Darren Lehmann speaks to the press on Thursday as he announces he will resign as Australian cricket coach after the coming fourth Test in Johannesburg

Australia cricket coach quits, captain breaks down in tears

Australia cricket coach Darren Lehmann said on Thursday that he would quit after the final match of the scandal-tainted Test series in South Africa after the team’s former captain Steve Smith broke down in tears and accepted complete responsibility for the ball-tampering incident.

Smith was deeply emotional as the man at the centre of a storm that has rocked world cricket arrived back in Sydney from Johannesburg after being banned for a year from the sport.

“I take full responsibility, I made a serious error of judgment and I understand the consequences. It was a failure of leadership,” Smith said, choking back tears as he was comforted by his father Peter.

“I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I am absolutely gutted. Cricket is my life and I hope it can be again. I’m sorry. I’m absolutely devastated.”

Within hours, Lehmann said he was standing down despite Cricket Australia saying he had had no knowledge of the plot to alter the condition of the ball in the third Test in Cape Town.

“This will be my last Test as head coach of the Australian cricket team,” Lehmann, who also had tears in his eyes, said. “Saying goodbye to the players was the toughest thing I have ever had to do.”

Lehmann said “the feeling is that Australian cricket needs to move forward and this is the right thing to do”.

Fall from grace

Even Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the team, describing fielder Cameron Bancroft’s attempts to tamper with the ball by using sandpaper as a “shocking affront to Australia”.

Roughing up one side of the ball would have given Australian bowlers an advantage by producing more swing.

Cricket Australia have banned Smith and vice captain David Warner from all international and domestic cricket for a year, while Bancroft was exiled for nine months.

Smith’s fall from grace has been dramatic – and fast.

He was jeered as he made his way through Johannesburg airport on Wednesday surrounded by police and media with concerns over his mental state in the current heated climate.

Warner, a divisive figure who was charged with developing the plot and instructing Bancroft to carry it out, also broke his silence to say sorry and admitted his actions had been “a stain on the game”.

“Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket,” he told his 1.6 million Instagram followers. “I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it.”

‘It will never happen again’

An emotional Bancroft said he was ashamed when he arrived back in Perth.

“All I can do in the short term is ask for forgiveness,” he said, while denying he had ever tampered with a ball before, in comments echoed by Smith.

“This is the first time I have seen this happen and it will never be happening again.”

Smith and Bancroft will not be considered for team leadership positions until a minimum of 12 months after the end of their suspensions, and Warner will never lead again.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine will take over the Australian captaincy for the fourth and final Test starting in Johannesburg on Friday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration