Darren Lehmann apologises, wants to see trio getting second chance

An emotional Lehmann, cleared of any wrongdoing by a Cricket Australia investigation, told reporters on Wednesday that the banned players, Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, were "not bad people" and called for them to be given a second chance as he expressed concerns over their mental state.

Darren Lehmann apologises, wants to see trio getting second chance
Courtesy: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG: Australia coach Darren Lehmann today admitted that Steve Smith and David Warner had made "grave mistake" but urged everyone to be a bit more humane in their approach as they are not "bad people".

"The players involved have been handed down very serious sanctions and they know they must face the consequences. They've made a grave mistake, but they are not bad people. As a coach you feel for them as people, they are hurting and I feel for them and their families. I hope that in all this, the media and the fans don't forget that," Lehmann told the mediapersons.

Lehmann said that everyone should remember that each one of us have made mistakes in our life. "There's a human side in this. They have made a mistake, as everyone, including myself, has made mistakes in the past. These are young men, and I hope people will give them a second chance. Their health and well being is extremely important to us. The team has been perceived quite negatively in recent times and there is a need for us to change some of the philosophies about the way we play."

Lehmann made it clear that he will "not resign" from his post in the wake of ball tampering controversy but did admit that a shift in team's playing culture is the need of the hour. Steve Smith and David Warner have been banned for one year by Cricket Australia for their role in the scandal while young Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months.

Smith and Warner have lost their IPL contracts too. Contrary to popular belief, Lehmann was found not guilty of any wrongdoing and CA chief executive James Sutherland said that he will continue in his post. "I'm not going to resign. We need to change how we play, and within that, the boundaries we play. Obviously, previously, we've butted heads on the line but that's not the way to go for us playing cricket moving forward. Yes, I am confident that they can change. I need to change,"

"I would also like to apologise to the Australian public and the cricket family," Lehmann said. "What happened on Saturday is not something that is acceptable, especially from the Australian cricket team. Like all of Australia, we're extremely disappointed and as a team we know, we have let so many people down, and for that I'm truly sorry."

Lehmann admitted that respect for opposition will be paramount from now on. "The thing for me would be, if we take a leaf out of someone like say New Zealand's book. The way they respect the opposition... We do respect the opposition but we push boundaries. We've got to make sure we are respecting the game, its traditions and understand the game itself around the world."