Cricket Australia think they have acted strongly and probably believe that they have contained the ball tampering and behavioural crisis that has engulfed Australian cricket. James Sutherland, the CEO, gave a limp press conference in which it appears that he has fooled precisely no one.
Addressing the world’s media in Johannesburg, Sutherland looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights, desperately seeking, even hoping, that he could contain the crisis. In funnelling all of the blame for all of the damage through just Steve Smith, Dave Warner and Cameron Bancroft, however, he has only made the situation worse.
Of course, those three have blood on their hands and deserved punishment. That’s about all that Sutherland has got right.
In proclaiming that Lehmann is innocent, Sutherland has left himself and the entire Cricket Australia set up open to further scrutiny and ridicule. Whether Lehmann knew about the preordained plan to cheat or not, his position is untenable.
How can it not be? At worst, he was in on the plan. And if he wasn’t, how can the footage of him communicating with 12th man, Peter Handscombe, be explained? The message delivered immediately after by Handscombe to Bancroft, followed by Bancroft stuffing the offending foreign object down his pants, is not a coincidence.
So, even if Lehmann only discovered the plan at the juncture at which it was seen on TV, rather than tell his players to confess to the umpires immediately, he thought it would be best to instruct Bancroft to get rid of the evidence.
And even if the walkie talkie shots are coincidental, Lehmann has fostered an environment of such aggression and such obsession with winning, that sportsmanship has fallen entirely by the wayside. For that, he is absolutely guilty.
Here’s a video of the man who knows absolutely nothing about his side’s plans to tamper with the condition of the ball illegally:
Interesting to see Darren Lehmann’s reaction when asked about reverse swing earlier in the series. Looks rather damning in hindsight.#BallTampering #CricketAustralia #DrainTheSwamp pic.twitter.com/sIXEQSaudh
— Too Upfront (@Too_Upfront) March 26, 2018
Yet Lehmann retains his job. What a shambles.
By Miles Reucroft