Sutherland: Sanctions for ‘causing damage to the game’, not tampering

Australia


How can Darren Lehmann escape charges given the apparent relaying of messages to Cameron Bancroft?
It is understood and it has been verified by others that on the walkie-talkie he said… you guys probably saw it, the first time anyone knew about it was when it came up on the vision screen. He saw that and he radioed down and he said: ‘what the f*** is going on?’ He said to Peter Handscomb ‘find out what the f*** is going on’. Beyond that, I would like to just touch on he brought everyone into the room when the next break was. He basically went through everyone and went ‘what is going on?’ There are other parts of the investigation that asked lots of questions to try and understand that. But in Darren’s defence, these were findings that Iain Roy had.

How could he not know given the culture around the team, and is he culpable on a wider level?
I’ve got no doubt that he feels some sort of personal responsibility for that. We all do. This is a terrible situation. There are three guys going home that have been offered sanctions that are life-changing. There is a feeling of guilt and questions obviously being asked of lots of people as to why or how that might have happened. That’s part of the purpose of later discussion and review. We’ll clearly take on board whatever comes out of such investigations.

But further to that I think it’s really important that to say this process is about culture and performance and all of that but it’s also about the standing of the Australian cricket team and how they engage with the Australian public. There is a rebuild that needs to happen to reinstate the faith and the confidence and I guess the pride that the Australian public had and should have in the Australian cricket team.

How much scrutiny will Lehmann face during the culture review?
The review will be deep and far-ranging. We’re committed to doing something about it. We cannot have this happen again. It’s just unquestionable and so obvious. If there are things that allow little things to turn into little things to turn into big things that allow this to happen, then you’ve got to go back to the core and find out what the little things are and address them. That is what we’ll be doing.

How much did David Warner‘s history contribute to receiving the harshest penalty?
It’s certainly not history, though in terms of code of conduct he does have a rap sheet that is longer. So there’s an element of that. But I think that you don’t need to look any further than the specific comments or findings. There were lots of things in there that ultimately come to a judgement around that. He’s the vice-captain, Steven Smith‘s the captain. He might not have been as integrally involved, but at the same time the captain has a responsibility and could have done something about it.

What about allegations from South Africa about the use of sandpaper [the bandage on Warner’s left hand] in Port Elizabeth?
Again, the focus of Iain’s investigation was very much about the incident in Cape Town and what happened. If there’s an element of truth to those allegations then they’re obviously of severe concern. If there was more to that or more understanding then there would be action taken, and further investigation.

Will you investigate?
Not at this stage. But from our perspective, if there are credible allegations, and there is evidence to come to light, we have powers under our code of conduct to investigate that or any other matter.

Will they get contracts for 2018-19?
No contracts next year, they won’t be offered contracts. There’s no impact on pre-existing contracts. At the same time as we go forward, for Steve and David, there’ll be no Cricket Australia contract for the year.

They have been banned by the IPL – did you have the authority to reject NOCs? And what of county cricket?
Under the code, we didn’t have any clear authority over domestic matches played overseas. It was talked about but we ascertained based on the legal advice that we didn’t have that clear authority. I understood the IPL has made a call recently, someone told me about that. It sounds like IPL have made a decision, and I think again it [county cricket] is a matter for the ECB. As I understand it Bancroft has got something going with Somerset, but what happens with that is up to them.

Would you be happy if they did play county cricket?
On balance, what we’ve done is we’ve dealt with the matters within our control. We have made an assessment and I think we all know here that there are extreme views around this in terms of what the penalties are. And not only extreme, one end to the other, but up and down the line as well. What we have done is try to over a number of meetings, the directors have gone into great detail to consider all of the evidence at hand and try to find the right balance for the circumstances. It was a really significant offence, it’s done immeasurable damage to the game and the reputation to the game in Australia and perhaps more broadly. And we believe in difficult circumstances we’ve found a landing spot that is fair after offering a proper process of investigation.

Were bigger bans contemplated?
I can assure you there were considerations and views around the table that were all over the place. Higher sanctions for all three players, lower sanctions for all three players and it is one of those things that needs to be carefully considered. You need to talk openly and share views on balance but working with the timelines that we had and proper process, we’ve landed at something that we believe is appropriate, commensurate with the offence, but at the same time allows an opportunity for these people who are good people who have made bad mistakes, the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and come back and play the great game.

Can Smith captain Australia again?
His ban is for captaincy is 24 months. It’s not before 24 months. All I’d say is that he’s got a very steep hill to climb to rebuild the confidence and faith of the Australian public. Ultimately, the public and the Board who approve the captains of the Australian teams are the ones who will decide that or not. I think he’s got that opportunity. I know speaking to him today before he left, he actually said with a smile on his face when we were talking about the community service and working at club cricket, he said with a smile on his face ‘I’ll be doing that anyway’, which I think says a lot about him.

Has Warner got a steeper path than Smith?
Everyone’s different, Cameron Bancroft’s different as well. They have different relationships with different people. But irrespective of that, I think when you boil it down everyone will have different perspectives, but when you have a look at it I think Smith and Warner both 12 months suspensions, it’s fair. Steve is the captain, David the vice-captain, they play different roles, they’re guilty of different things in our view, based on the investigation. People will have different views but the Board was dealing with the evidence they had in front of them.

Was the harsh penalty for ball-tampering or outrage?
They haven’t been charged by Cricket Australia for ball tampering. It’s something that’s important to remind people that the code is worth reading, those four dot points, that’s what they’ve been charged for. That’s the significance. It relates to contrary to the spirit of the game, it relates to denigrating the game or having an impact on the reputation and image of the game, causing damage to the game, all of those things have quite clearly happened in a short space of time as a result of those actions. That’s what the report is for and the sanctions are on that basis.

How much more damage could there be done if the matter goes to a hearing?
All we can do is uphold the code to our best judgement and take into considerations the evidence we have. It’s about the spirit of cricket it’s about the good of the game, it’s not about individuals or thinking about those sorts of consequences, we’ve got to make those judgements on what’s best for the game and quite rightly as a course of natural justice under our code, players have the right to accept or reject the charges or the sanctions or both, and if they do to take that to appeal. That’s a good, proper legal process and that’s why it’s written that way.

Given Warner has got in strife before, were you worried he might transgress again?
David has got a rap sheet but I actually had a lot of confidence that he was going well. And I think over the last couple of years, certainly at least prior to Durban, he had a pretty clean sheet and he was performing well and he was leading well. He had just come off the Twenty20 successful series and was doing well. So I guess based on prior things you can say that, but at the same time I am as surprised as anyone about all this. Putting aside individuals, I am surprised that Australian cricketers have let this happen to them, allowed this to happen, and allowed it to happen to the team and the game.”

Regarding culture. Smith said before Cape Town he was not in a great headspace. He was talking about batting, but still. Under umbrella of culture, are you looking at that part of it?
Yeah, I think it is performance, culture and the pressure of the tour. You guys know what it is like when you see the players first hand, you have good days and bad days and it is a difficult situation. This is a tough tour, South Africa is a tough environment to play because of the combative nature of Australian-South Africa cricket with the crowds and everything else that you have to deal with. It sort of goes with the territory and you expect that. It can still get to you, we still understand that.

And that’s part of performing better or being better, but it is also about having the mechanisms around the players to help support them and put them in a position of not only performing, but dealing with the pressures and ensuring the right cultures to ensure that little things don’t turn into big things that turn into monumental things.

What is Warner’s future like given apparent breakdown of his relationship with the rest of the team?
I don’t know about the details but the intention of the charges, the sanctions that we have offered is that they are commensurate with what we believe are terrible actions that have damaged the game, but allow all three players, if they so wish and are motivated to, to come back and play for Australia.



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