FORMER Yorkshire captain Darren Lehmann will leave his post as Australia’s head coach after the fourth Test against South Africa, which begins today.
Cricket Australia yesterday confirmed his resignation, which had appeared unlikely when it was announced earlier in the week that he would remain in his post under the terms of his contract.
That deal was due to run until the end of the 2019 Ashes series in England, but now Lehmann has joined the casualties of Australia’s Cape Town debacle.
Earlier in the day Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft both repeated their apologies for their part in the Australia ball-tampering scandal as cricket’s international governing body announced a wide-ranging review into the behaviour of players.
Smith and Bancroft fought back tears as they faced the media, with former captain Smith in Sydney and Bancroft in Perth.
Speaking at a press conference, Lehmann said: “I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I’ve been thinking about my position for a while.
“Despite telling media (on Wednesday) that I’m not resigning, after reviewing Steve and Cameron’s hurting it’s only fair that I make this decision.
“This will allow Cricket Australia to complete a full review into the culture of the team and allow them to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public.
“This is the right thing for Australian cricket.”
David Warner, the third cricketer banned for the third Test ball-tampering plot which he devised, said on Twitter that his plan was a “stain on the game”.
An investigation into the ball-tampering by Cricket Australia had cleared Lehmann, with Sutherland saying on Tuesday the coach had no prior knowledge of the plot.
Lehmann, though, accepted that “as a team we know we’ve let so many people down and for that we’re truly sorry.”
The Australia coach also moved to stress while the three men involved “must face serious consequences” and had “made a grave mistake”, they “are not bad people”.
Like Smith and Bancroft, it was also an emotional experience to front the media for Lehmann, who choked back tears as he thanked his wife Andrea and four children as well as close friends “for allowing me to do this job and supporting me 100 per cent every step of the way”.
Lehmann said it had been a “wonderful experience” to coach the Australian cricket team, which he hoped could rebuild and move on, before asking the Australian public to “find it in their hearts to forgive these young men and get behind the 11 who are going to take the field (today)”.