Australia’s national cricket coach Darren Lehmann is reportedly set to resign with immediate effect as the investigation into ball-tampering continues in South Africa.
UK newspaper The Telegraph reported that Lehmann is expected to quit the team in the next 24 hours and his decision is the reason Cricket Australia (CA) CEO James Sutherland has flown to South Africa.
Lehmann has not spoken publicly on the scandal, which has attracted global condemnation.
CA’s integrity chief Iain Roy and team performance manager Pat Howard have arrived in South Africa and started their formal review of skipper Steve Smith’s confession Sunday that Australian players cheated in the third Test.
ABC cricket commentator Jim Maxwell on Monday predicted Lehmann would be removed as head coach as a result of the cheating scandal.
“This has been festering for a while in Australia’s attitude,” Maxwell told ABC Breakfast.
“All this nonsense about not stepping over the line, the way they behaved as badly as South Africa in that rancorous test match in Durban where they kept cursing the opposition and carrying on in an aggressive way reflected the lack of judgment.”
Sutherland, who is under immense pressure to strip Smith of the captaincy, will meet with Roy and Howard on Tuesday before discussing likely punishments with CA’s board.
CA chairman David Peever said an announcement regarding the findings of the inquiry would be made on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
“The Cricket Australia Board has been fully updated on the issue and supports James travelling to South Africa to manage the response to the investigation currently underway,” Mr Peever said.
“We expect to be able to fully update the Australian public on the findings on Wednesday morning (Tuesday evening in Johannesburg).
“We understand that everyone wants answers, but we must follow our due diligence before any further decisions are made.”
Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera using tape to interfere with the ball during the third Test at Newlands before hiding it down his pants.
Smith later admitted the team’s leadership group had agreed to the idea.
Smith has since been handed with one-Test ban by the International Cricket Council and will miss the fourth and final Test series starting Friday in Johannesburg.
David Warner’s vice-captaincy also hangs in the balance, with the opener shaping as another enforced omission for the fourth Test.
The ICC didn’t ban Bancroft, instead punishing his ball-tampering charge with a hefty fine and three demerit points, but CA may not be so forgiving.
Any player or member of support staff who conspired to use sticky tape in an illegal effort to scuff the ball at Newlands are also likely to be sanctioned.
CA has the power to hand out lifetime bans from the sport, but the governing body is unlikely to opt for such an extreme response.
Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) chief Alistair Nicholson is also in Cape Town, where a series of crisis talks are unfolding.
As Australia’s cricket heirarchy consider the players’ fate, Smith’s Indian Premier League side released a statement saying he was stepping down as captain “in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals”.
“Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game,” co-owner Manoj Badale said.
“What happened in South Africa was clearly wrong, especially given that it appears to have been premeditated.”