JOHANNESBURG: Darren Lehmann will step down as head coach of Australia at the end of the fourth Test against South Africa.
Lehmann had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the ball-tampering scandal, with the coach having had no knowledge of what Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft, and David Warner were planning.
Reading from a prepared statement, Lehmann said his decision to quit was tough but voluntary: “I just want to let you know this will be by my last Test as head coach if the Australian cricket team as I’m stepping down.
“After seeing events in the media today with Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, the feeling is that Australian cricket needs to move forward and this is the right thing to do.
“I really felt for Steve, as I saw him crying in front of the media, and all the players are really hurting.
“As I stated before I had no prior knowledge of the incident and do not condone what happened. But good people can make mistakes.
“My family and I have copped a lot of abuse over the last week and it’s taken its toll on them.
“As many who sit in this room will know life on the road means a long time away from our loved ones and after speaking to my family at length over the last few days it’s the right time to step away.
“I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I’ve been thinking about my position for a while.
“Despite telling media yesterday that I’m not resigning, after viewing Steve and Cameron hurting it’s only fair that I make this decision.
“This will allow Cricket Australia to make a full review into the culture of the team and allow them to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public.
“This is the right thing for Australian cricket.
“Like all Australians we are extremely disappointed and as a team we know we’ve let so many people down, and for that we are truly sorry.
“The players involved have been handed down very serious sanctions and they know they must face the consequences. They have made a grave mistake but they are not bad people.
“I would like to thank my beautiful wife Andrea, my four children and close friends for allowing me to do this job and supporting me 100 per cent every step of the way.
“I would also like to thank all the players and support staff who have been fantastic in my five years in the role.
“We’ve had a lot of highs along the way and played some really exciting cricket.
“It’s been a wonderful experience coaching the Australian cricket team.
“I hope the team rebuilds from this and the Australian public find it in their hearts to forgive these young men and get behind the XI that are going to take the field tomorrow.”
He conceded that he should take some blame for the aggressive culture that has developed in the Australian team during his time as coach.
Lehmann took over the team weeks before the 2013 Ashes series. During his reign Australia won two home Ashes series, won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and were briefly ranked No.1 in the ICC Test Rankings.