Darren Lehmann wants forgiveness for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft

Lehmann was cleared of any wrongdoing by a Cricket Australia investigation into the ball-tampering row.

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Darren Lehmann wants forgiveness for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft


Australia coach Darren Lehmann has apologised to the public and called for forgiveness for the "grave mistake" made by the trio of test players banned for their role in the ball-tampering scandal that has rocked the sport.

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.

The coach also said the team would need to improve their behaviour on and off the pitch in order to win back fan respect after Bancroft was caught tampering with the ball in the 322-run third test defeat by South Africa at Newlands. 

Earlier, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has reiterated that the coach Darren Lehmann would continue to remain at his position as he was not involved in the massive ball-tampering scandal.

Speaking to the media, Sutherland said the investigation carried out by the head of integrity Ian Roy has found that Lehmann in no way was familiar with the plan.

"Darren is the coach and was not involved in the incident. He continues as the coach under his current contract. He sent a message to say 'what in the hell is going on?' He didn't use hell he used another word. Darren made those comments and Ian was satisfied he knew nothing of the plan," Sutherland said.

Sutherland further said that he is regretful to find himself in this situation while adding that the word `cheating` would be appropriate in the circumstances.

"As you know we have offered sanctions to the three players that I advised last night that were reported under the code of conduct. Today they have travelled home to Australia. It is with deep regret we are in the position, it gives us no joy. The process we have worked through has been exhaustive. We have arrived at decisions that we feel are of an appropriate measure.We are satisfied with the outcome," he said.

The Cricket Australia chief executive revealed that the three players are disappointed and remorseful about what has happened.

"I have spoken to all three players as they left. The players are very sad, disappointed and remorseful about what has happened. The word cheating is appropriate in the circumstances," Sutherland said.

He, however, clarified that he is not considering resigning from his position and is looking forward to reinstalling the faith and confidence of the fans that have been compromised with the incident.

"Clearly this has caused a huge amount of damage to the cricket game as a whole, and certainly Australian cricket and it's compromised the fans' faith in cricket and it is our responsibility, players, administrators, coaches and others to reinstall that faith and confidence," he said.

Earlier, Smith and Warner had reportedly earlier handed a 12-month suspension by Cricket Australia (CA) for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that took place during the third Test of the ongoing four-match series against South Africa in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, Cameron Bancroft, the third member found guilty in Cricket Australia's internal investigation and the player who actually tampered with the ball has been handed a nine-month suspension.

The Cricket Australia had previously announced that it has found Steve Smith, Warner, and Cameron Bancroft guilty in the ball-tampering scandal, and suspended the trio for the fourth and final Test against South Africa in Johannesburg, beginning on Friday.

After the CA investigation, all three players were found guilty of breaching article 2.3.5 of Cricket Australia's Code of Conduct and were sent back home from South Africa on Thursday.

Following the fiasco, Smith and Warner stood down as captain and vice-captain, respectively.

Smith, who was part of the "leadership group", admitted to charges of ball tampering, which took place during the third Test match in Cape Town, and stood down from captaining the side in the remaining days of the same Test.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) had initially handed a one-match suspension and fined 100 percent of his match fee to Smith for his leadership role in ball-tampering, while the global cricket body fined Bancroft 75 percent of his match fee and handed three demerit points to him for breaching Level 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct.

The incident took place during South Africa's innings on Saturday afternoon when Bancroft was seen on television holding a small yellow object while rubbing the rough side of the ball, before hiding the object in his pocket, then inside his trousers

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