Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland has said that the Australian coach Darren Lehmann didn’t play any part in the ball-tampering scandal and he knew nothing of David Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith’s ploy of tampering the ball.
Lehmann has been under severe pressure since footage of Bancroft trying to scuff up the ball with sandpaper and subsequently flinging it inside his trousers emerged. The coach’s involvement came into question when the footage revealed Lehmann talking to substitute Peter Handscomb over a walkie-talkie, before the latter went onto the field and conversed with Bancroft, who then hid the sandpaper inside his trousers.
Sutherland revealed that Lehmann was found to have had no knowledge of the plan and that he was to continue as coach of the Australian team under his current contract. On Wednesday, Sutherland reiterated his statement, but added that Lehmann’s message on the walkie was one of surprise and the need to know what was happening, rather than of connivance.
Sutherland said: “I don’t want to get too involved in the specific comments or findings of the review, but I do, in Darren’s defence, want to clarify that specific matter. I want to say that he sent a message to say ‘What in the hell is going on?’ he didn’t use hell, he used another word.”
He added: “I don’t think that there’s any evidence that we’ve seen or heard during the investigation. Clearly, the primary focus of his investigation was very much about the events of Cape Town, but also about his discussions and responsibilities was to ask questions more broadly.”