Cricket Expert & Columnist
Almost unbelieveable Darren Lehmann unaware of ball-tampering ploy, says Bob Willis
"I find it remarkable that Lehmann didn't know anything about this and he has been exonerated"
Last Updated: 02/04/18 12:42pm
Bob Willis says it is "almost unbelievable" that Australia head coach Darren Lehmann was unaware of the ball-tampering ploy during the third Test against South Africa.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said Lehmann had no involvement in the incident and will remain in charge of the national team.
But speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Sutherland confirmed that captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were the only players with prior knowledge and all three players had been sent home from the tour immediately.
On Saturday, Bancroft was caught using a foreign object on the ball and then hiding it down his trousers and Smith later admitted the opener had been instructed to tamper with the ball by the team's "senior leadership" group. Smith was handed a one-Test ban by the ICC and fined 100 per cent of his match fee, with Bancroft given a 75 per cent fine.
"I find that almost unbelievable and I think Lehmann is very lucky to survive," said Willis. "I find it remarkable that he didn't know anything about this and he has been exonerated. Surely the head coach has to be part of the leadership group of an international cricket team?
Lehmann never knew - 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) March 27, 2018
"I would have thought his [Lehamnn's] 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.
"Clearly the leadership group which Steve Smith referred in his press conference only included Warner, Smith and poor Bancroft - the lame duck if you like - who was sent out to do the dirty work."
Sutherland confirmed that Smith, Warner and Bancroft have been officially reported for breaching article 2.3.5 of Cricket Australia's Code of Conduct.
Sanctions are expected to be announced within the next 24 hours for the three players with Matthew Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns taking their places for the final Test while Tim Paine takes on the captaincy duties.
Willis believes that only the strictest of punishments will suffice to act as a deterrent in the future.
"Clearly there are going to be some pretty severe sanctions for the three guys; they are being exiled, sent home straight away," he said.
"One wouldn't envy the three of them getting off the plane back in Australia; there will be a media scrum. James Sutherland was clearly holding back his anger and frustration at the behaviour of the two guys in charge of the Australia team, Smith and Warner.
"They have been a bad-tempered bunch for 18 months to two years. It is not what we need in cricket. There has been personal sledging about people's private lives, families and wives and I think Sutherland will come down very hard on these two [Smith and Warner] players.
"I think it would be sufficient for them to be stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy. They are very important players to Australia; other people have been found guilty of ball tampering and not had particularly severe fines or suspensions.
"I hope they will consider the future of Australian cricket and these cricketers when they hand out these penalties. Cricket usually sets the example about behaviour and hopefully after this incident it can go back to doing that."