Sport Cricket CA boss James Sutherland ready to throw book at cheats

CA boss James Sutherland ready to throw book at cheats

David Warner
Australian players appear to have turned on David Warner as the ball-tampering crisis takes another turn. Photo: AAP
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Cricket Australia (CA) looks set to take a hardline stance on all parties implicated in the South African ball-tampering crisis as it attempts to clean up the mess.

CA chief executive James Sutherland has arrived in Johannesburg and will soon finalise sanctions, with an announcement expected to come in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Disgraced skipper Steve Smith flew out with the touring party from Cape Town to Johannesburg, dodging journalists and TV cameras while making his way from the team’s hotel to the plane.

Smith and vice-captain David Warner are expected to lose their leadership positions and cop long bans for their roles in the scandal.

Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the plan to illegally scuff the ball with sticky tape, is also set to be punished.

Bans of 12 months would mean Smith and Warner miss the home summer of 2018-19 against India and Sri Lanka then will return for the World Cup and Ashes, both in England.

Coach Darren Lehmann is yet to resign but that may well happen when he fronts Sutherland in Johannesburg.

Warner has infuriated some teammates with his reaction to the saga, which included drinking champagne on Monday.

Warner in turn feels let down by how some teammates have described his role in the events.

The opener left the side’s organisational WhatsApp group but is now back in it.

Darren Lehmann
Coach Darren Lehmann arrives to a media scrum in Johannesburg. Photo: AP

There is a sense among many players and support staff that Smith failed to eloquently express exactly what transpired in the conversation between himself, Warner and Bancroft.

Many feel deep sympathy for Smith, unhappy with the level of backlash and the fact it has been largely aimed at one man.

Senior bowlers in the side, having been implicated by Smith using the words “leadership group” in his explanation of the plan to cheat, are unhappy and expected to have their names cleared at Sutherland’s press conference.

Sutherland and CA chairman David Peever, whose board is poised to rubber stamp Tim Paine’s ascension as the nation’s 46th Test captain, will make the ultimate decision on sanctions.

CA high-performance manager Pat Howard and head of integrity Iain Roy have completed a formal review and passed on what they know to Sutherland.

Cameron Bancroft Steve Smith
Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith faced the press earlier this week. Photo: Getty

CA wants to punish those responsible for the illegal act but also offer support, recognising that Smith and Bancroft in particular are – in the words of Paine – “struggling”.

CA’s bigwigs, under incredible pressure to improve the team’s image and culture from sponsors and fans, are likely to throw the book at anybody involved in the scandal.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is among those putting on the pressure, saying he expected action to be taken.

“They now have to make sure that this great, national game … that is synonymous with fair play, is once again a game that is played by champions that everybody can look up to,” Mr Turnbull said.

Matthew Renshaw is making a dash from the Sheffield Shield final in Brisbane to Johannesburg via Dubai, with Warner fully expected to be an enforced omission for the series finale.