Steve Smith. Picture: SUPPLIED
Steve Smith. Picture: SUPPLIED

Cricket Australia CE James Sutherland addressed the media in Johannesburg on Tuesday, clearing coach Darren Lehmann over the ball-tampering scandal and sending Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft home to Australia.

Sutherland spoke at a hotel in Sandton were the world’s media had gathered.

Facing the music were captain Smith, vice-captain Warner, Lehmann and ball-tamperer Bancroft. Sutherland refused to answer whether Smith would captain Australia again, if War-ner would play again or whether the players “cheated”.

He also declared that Lehmann had not offered to resign from his position.

Sutherland promised that “significant punishments” were imminent, but Cricket Australia was not yet in a position to make a verdict.

Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns have been drafted into the squad for the fourth Test starting on Friday, with Tim Payne set to captain the side in Johannesburg.

Sutherland’s announcement followed days of speculation over the fates of the Australian players behind the plot to cheat in the third Test at Newlands in Cape Town.

Bancroft was caught on cameras on Saturday using a piece of yellow tape to try and alter the condition of the ball.

Smith and Bancroft later fronted the media where the Aussie captain implicated the entire Australian team’s leadership group as being responsible for hatching the plan.

Although Smith said Lehmann had nothing to do with the plot the coach has come under fire for appearing to radio Peter Handscomb on the boundary, ordering him to alert Bancroft he had been spotted cheating by television cameras.

Sutherland, however, said on Tuesday night Lehmann knew nothing of the plot.