Melbourne: Australian head coach Darren Lehmann has finally broken his silence on the massive ball-tampering scandal, saying that he and his entire cricket team have to change their culture and need to learn from New Zealand the way they play cricket.
Talking for the first time since the Cape Town ball-tampering fiasco that saw the provisional suspension of former skipper Steve Smith, former vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, Lehmann admitted that their former style of “butting heads on the line” would not stand anymore and that they need to oversee a cultural overhaul in order to save his team’s shattered reputation.
“We need to change how we play and within the boundaries we play. Obviously, previously we’ve butted heads on the line but that’s not the way to go about us playing cricket moving forward. The thing for me would be if we take a leaf out of someone like New Zealand’s book, the way they play and respect the opposition,” cricket.com.au quoted Lehmann, as saying.
“We do respect the opposition but we push the boundaries on the ground. So, we’ve got to make sure we’re respecting the game, its traditions, and understanding (how) the game holds itself around the world,” he added.
In the wake of the scandal that shocked the cricket world, Australia’s team culture has come under scanner because of the way the national side behaves on the field and the way they are perceived by the public.
While urging everyone to forgive the disgraced trio, a tearful Lehmann insisted that though the three players had made “grave mistake”, they are not bad people and should be given a second chance in life.
“The players involved have been handed down very serious sanctions and they knew they must face the consequences. They have made a grave mistake, but they are not bad people. As a coach, you feel for them as people. They are hurting. I feel for them and their families,” Lehmann said.
“There is a human side to this. They have made a mistake, as everyone – including myself – has made mistakes in the past. These are young men and I hope people will give them a second chance. Their health and wellbeing is extremely important to us,” the Australian coach.
Meanwhile, Lehmann also reiterated that he would continue to remain as the coach of the Australian cricket team.
“I’m not going to resign,” he said.
Earlier, Smith and Warner were handed a 12-month suspension by Cricket Australia (CA) for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that took place during the third Test of the ongoing four-match series against South Africa in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, Cameron Bancroft, the third member found guilty in Cricket Australia’s internal investigation and the player who actually tampered with the ball, has been handed a nine-month suspension.
The Cricket Australia had previously announced that it has found Steve Smith, Warner, and Cameron Bancroft guilty in the ball-tampering scandal, and suspended the trio for the fourth and final Test against South Africa in Johannesburg, beginning on Friday.
After the CA investigation, all three players were found guilty of breaching article 2.3.5 of Cricket Australia’s Code of Conduct and were sent back home from South Africa on Thursday.
Following the fiasco, Smith and Warner stood down as captain and vice-captain, respectively.
Smith, who was part of the “leadership group”, admitted to charges of ball tampering, which took place during the third Test match in Cape Town, and stood down from captaining the side in the remaining days of the same Test.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) had initially handed a one-match suspension and fined 100 percent of his match fee to Smith for his leadership role in ball-tampering, while the global cricket body fined Bancroft 75 percent of his match fee and handed three demerit points to him for breaching Level 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct.
The incident took place during South Africa’s innings on Saturday afternoon when Bancroft was seen on television holding a small yellow object while rubbing the rough side of the ball, before hiding the object in his pocket, then inside his trousers.