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Fans, ex-cricketers slam Cricket Australia’s clean-chit to coach Darren Lehmann

Cricket Australia stated that coach Darren Lehmann knew nothing of the controversy while Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner were sent home.

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2018 13:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Darren Lehmann,Cricket Australia,Steve Smith
Australia coach Darren Lehmann arrives at in Johannesburg after the team was caught cheating in the third Test against South Africa.(AFP)

Darren Lehmann is set to continue as coach after Cricket Australia’s (CA) internal probe deemed that the former cricketer had no role to play in the ball tampering scandal during the team’s third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. However, not all are happy with the decision.

CA late on Tuesday night said that Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been asked to return home. They will announce heavy sanctions against the three in the next 24 hours.

Tim Paine was named the 46th Australian captain, who would lead the ‘Baggy Greens’ in the fourth and final Test against South Africa in place of Smith.

The scandal emerged on Day 3 of the third Test after television cameras caught Bancroft rubbing the surface of the ball with sandpaper. Smith later admitted at a press conference that the ‘leadership group’ had hatched the ploy.

It is exactly this statement that has escalated the controversy. With CA issuing a clean chit to Lehmann, it either means that the southpaw, despite being the head coach, is not considered a part of the leadership squad by his own players. Or, he simply knew nothing and has no control over his players on how the game is supposed to be played.

CA CEO James Sutherland, while pronouncing the decision, stated: “No other players or support staff had prior knowledge and this includes Darren Lehmann who, despite inaccurate media reports, has not resigned. He will continue to coach the Australian men’s team under his current contract (until after the 2019 Ashes).”

The decision had split opinion on social media with most former cricketers and fans finding it appalling how the national coach of a side wouldn’t know what transpired inside the dressing room.

“We’re talking about one of the good guys in Australian cricket,” former Australian captain Allan Border was quoted as saying by Fox Sports News.

“He’s done a fantastic job with that team and if he wasn’t aware of what was going on, there’s no problem at all. If (CA’s) integrity officer has been through and interviewed people and he’s satisfied that Darren Lehmann didn’t know specifically what was going on at the time, I’m very relaxed.”

However, not everyone felt that the probe was so transparent. Former England fast bowler Bob Willis took a jibe at the decision and stated: “I find it remarkable that he didn’t know anything about this and has been exonerated. Surely the head coach has to be part of the leadership group of an international cricket team?

“I would have thought his credibility was shot, the standards of behaviour have been very poor with Darren in charge of this Australia side and he is lucky to get off scot-free.”

Fans and other cricketers took to social media to express their opinion.

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 13:47 IST