Darren Lehmann quits as Australia head coach

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

Darren Lehmann will step down from his role as Australia head coach at the end of the fourth Test in South Africa.

Lehmann’s position was safe in the eyes of Cricket Australia after the national governing body’s investigation into the ball-tampering scandal ruled Lehmann had no knowledge of plans by Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft to use sandpaper to rough one side of the ball in the Newlands Test.

Evading sanctions from both Cricket Australia and the ICC, Lehmann revealed at a press conference in Johannesburg ahead of tomorrow’s Test that a conversation with his family had made his reach his decision.

“As many who sit in this room will know, life on the road means a lot of time away from loved ones and after speaking to my family, it is the right time to step away,” an emotional Lehmann confirmed.

“I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I’ve been thinking about my position for a while.

“Despite telling media yesterday that I’m not resigning, after reviewing Steve and Cameron’s hurting it’s only fair that I make this decision.”

“I really felt for Steve, as I saw him crying in front of the media. As I stated before I had no prior knowledge of the (ball-tampering) incident and do not condone what happened, but good people can make mistakes.

Lehmann’s press conference followed a couple of hours after Smith broke down in tears in front of the world’s media and said he was ‘absolutely devastated’ by the events which have led to 12-month bans for him and Warner, and a nine-month ban for Bancroft.

With the loss of Ashes series sponsor Magellan Financial Group and the deal worth AUS$20m to Cricket Australia, Lehmann conceded that vacating his position was necessary in restoring the image of cricket to Australians.

Lehmann added: “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.

“The players involved have been handed down very serious sanctions and they know they must face serious consequences. They’ve made a grave mistake, but they are not bad people.”

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said on Tuesday that he expected Lehmann to continue as normal in his role as head coach with his contract due to expire at the end of the 2019 Ashes series in England.

Lehmann’s resignation only serves to heighten the stakes for Cricket Australia who as well as keeping their commercial partners on board must now begin a search for a new head coach to lead the team beside new captain Tim Paine.

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