Smith, Warner, and Bancroft are all being sent back to Australia, but Lehmann keeps his job

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – MARCH 27: David Warner of Australia during the Australian Cricket team arrival at Sandton Towers hotel on March 27, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

  • Test captain Steve Smith, vice-captain Dave Warner, and batsman Cameron Bancroft are being sent home from South Africa after the preliminary investigation into the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket.
  • Investigating officials are satisfied the plot to damage the ball using tape and pitch debris during the Third Test in Cape Town was confined to the three. Coach Darren Lehmann keeps his job.
  • “Significant sanctions” against the players are expected to be announced within the next 24 hours.

Steve Smith, Dave Warner and Cameron Bancroft are all being sent home from South Africa in disgrace after Cricket Australia’s preliminary investigation into the ball-tampering scandal.

But coach Darren Lehmann will be keeping his job after officials concluded the plot was confined the captain, vice-captain and Bancroft.

A huge rift has reportedly emerged between Warner and others on the team, with the vice-captain removing himself from the players’ WhatsApp group and isolating himself from teammates. Bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are reportedly furious that Warner, in his testimony to investigating officials, implicated them in the conspiracy to illegally rough up the ball using tape and pitch debris.

In a press conference overnight, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland he had officially reported Warner, Smith, and Bancroft for breaching CA’s code of conduct. Sanctions are expected to be announced in the next 24 hours.

Sutherland said “significant sanctions” should be expected.

“I want to stress that we are contemplating significant sanctions in each case. These sanctions will reflect the gravity with which we view what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket,” Sutherland said.

“We want Australian cricket fans to be proud of the Australian cricket team … we will take the necessary stops to address that.”

James Sutherland during the Australian press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Sutherland denied reports that Lehmann had offered to resign, underlining that the investigation had found that only the three now-sanctioned players were involved.

Lehmann was spotted on a walkie-talkie just before the 12th man was sent onto the field to speak to Bancroft just before the now-infamous moment when the batsman was caught by cameras trying to hide a piece of yellow tape in his pants. This drove speculation that the coach was aware of what was happening.

The three replacement players are Matthew Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns. They will fly to South Africa today to join the squad ahead of the Fourth Test in Johannesburg. Tim Paine will remain as captain.

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever said: “This issue goes beyond the technical nature of the offences and various codes of conduct. It is about the integrity and reputation of Australian Cricket and Australian sport.

“Ultimately, it is about whether Australians can feel proud of their national sporting teams.

“That depends as much on the way the players conduct themselves, as it does about winning or losing.”

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