CAPE TOWN – Darren Lehmann will continue as the coach of the Australian Test team, but captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will be sent home and sit out the final Test against the Proteas on Friday.
These were the preliminary findings from Cricket Australia's investigation into the ball-tampering scandal, as announced by CEO James Sutherland at a press conference in Sandton on Tuesday night.
Sutherland said that Smith, Warner and Bancroft have been charged for breaching Cricket Australia's code of conduct, and they will return to Australia on Wednesday.
Sutherland said that the three players were the only members of the Australian tour party that had "prior knowledge" of the plan to tamper with the ball by applying dirt caught on a piece of yellow tape by Bancroft during the third day of the third Test against South Africa at Newlands on Saturday.
He refuted earlier media reports that Lehmann had resigned, and said that the former left-hander will continue as the coach.
Sutherland said that Cricket Australia hope to conclude the investigation and hand out sanctions to Smith, Warner and Bancroft "within 24 hours".
But asked on three occasions whether the trio had cheated, Sutherland responded: "In the laws of the game, this is not in the spirit of the game."
Smith was suspended by the International Cricket Council and received four demerit points and a fine of 100% of his match fee, and Bancroft three demerit points and a 75% fine for using yellow tape to gather dirt to rub on to the ball during day three of the third Test at Newlands, which the Proteas won by an emphatic 322 runs.
Smith said on Saturday night that the “leadership group” had come up with the idea to tamper with the ball, but that he was “not going to name names” of who else was involved in that discussion.
Legendary former Australian captain Steve Waugh also spoke for the first time about the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed the team on Tuesday.
In a post on Facebook, Waugh said that the decision to use a foreign object to change the condition of the ball was a “serious error of judgement”.