Lehmann: ‘It was tape then it was sandpaper’
Exonerated Australian national team coach Darren Lehmann said he was confident that the ball-tampering matter was a once-off and one that won’t happen again.
Quiet through the process‚ Lehmann was seen on television cameras communicating with substitute fielder Peter Handscomb after Cameron Bancroft was caught illegally altering the condition of the ball.
Lehmann‚ who said he felt for David Warner‚ Steven Smith and Bancroft‚ who have been sent home and banned from playing competitive cricket for 12 and nine months‚ wore a look of incredulity and surprise when the ball was being tampered with on the third afternoon of the third test at Newlands.
“The first I saw of it was on that screen and the first thing I did was to get onto the walkie-talkie and I said something to Peter‚” he said.
“There were couple of expletives in there and then I spoke to the players at tea time. When they came off the field‚ we were going through the whole process and I was in and out of the whole situation and at the time it was tape‚ but obviously it was sandpaper. It was tape then it was sandpaper.
“I’m confident it was an isolated issue and it was a grave mistake. I base this on what has been said in the group. It hadn’t happened before and I’m pretty confident it hasn’t happened before.”
Reverse swing was a cornerstone of Australia’s 118-run win in the first test in Durban‚ but they were on the receiving end of Kagiso Rabada’s mastery and accuracy of the same art in the second test in Port Elizabeth.
Lehmann said conditions in South Africa were conducive to reverse swing. However‚ he said the team harboured no ill-feelings towards Warner‚ who was reported to be ostracised by his teammates in the aftermath of the storm in Cape Town.
Lehmann said he was not going to resign but acknowledged the team needed to change the way they approached the game.
“The feeling’s fine towards David and they’re feeling for him‚” Lehmann said.
“There’s no animosity that I know of so as a group‚ we’re trying to stick together to get things back on track and look after those three players in this difficult time for them. David’s feeling like everyone else.
“I’m not going to resign and we need to change how we play and within that‚ the boundaries within which we play.
“Previously we’ve butted heads on the line but that’s not how we want to play and I need to change.
“There are many conversations that can take place there but again it’s a grave mistake by three young men and we have to win the public back and play the type of cricket they expect us to play.
“We have to look at how we go about that as a coach‚ support staff and playing group and make the game better for everyone.”