You obviously think this is an isolated event. I think it's been going on all series actually, my opinion. When the ball is reverse swinging in the 30th over on a green pitch, come on, you have to be asking questions. I still maintain the whole team has to go, fresh faces and rebuild. Lets see how good Starc and Hazlewood bowl now going forward.
I'm sadly and somewhat reluctantly coming to a similar conclusion: this (ball tampering using sandpaper) has been happening for some time, and more than the 3 convicted parties knew about it and organised it.
If Warner really was giving Bancroft a tutorial on how to rough up the ball with sandpaper, you can only conclude it's something Warner has done before.
Secondly, I smell one huge stinking rat coming from Cricket Australia.
All three suspendees come out with exactly the same teary apology, and none of them answer any of the blindingly obvious questions, and pointedly none of them endorse the findings of the Ian Roy's enquiry. There was no reason not to acknowledge the report's findings (they were the only three involved), other than they know it's not true.
Lehmann, who was completely exonerated by Roy, (allowed to) resigned the next day.
Mitchell Starc, who has been complaining of calf soreness, but played the 3rd test anyway, is now too injured to play in the 4th test and the IPL
, even though a proper assessment of his injury has yet to be made. I know it's Mitchell Starc and he's chronically injured, but this stinks like an unofficial suspension to me.
Why was Glenn Maxwell sent over as one of the potential replacements? Originally they made a big thing/good news story of Matt Renshaw getting the call up to replace Bancroft. But after the preliminary results of the Roy enquiry, they hurriedly added Burns and Maxwell. From Maxwell's inclusion I can only conclude they may have faced the prospect of suspending either Handscomb or Lyon as well.
So this is what I now think happened - and this will no doubt change as there is clearly more to this story to come - :
Warner has been the "ball manager" within the team for some time. His job is to prepare the ball at the direction of the bowlers.
From at least the 1st test of this series - but for got knows how long before that - Warner's been doing this with sandpaper. There is only circumstantial evidence for this. The South Africans certainly suspect this.
Following Warner's various indiscretions on this tour he was facing suspension, so it became important that he train up a replacement "ball manager", and that job was assigned to Bancroft. It's possible this was done by Smith and Warner alone, but highly unlikely, almost certainly Lehmann was part of this decision and Bancroft was acting under direct instructions from (I suspect) the Coach, Captain and Vice Captain. The bowlers almost certainly have a say in what they want out of the "ball management process".
Warner was unusually fielding on the boundary when the tampering Bancroft was observed doing occurred. Exactly why is hard to say, to draw attention away (he was already under suspicion). But this can't happen without the captain's approval, and these days without the coach as well.
Anyway, it all goes pear shaped. Bancroft is busted on TV.
Smith and Bancroft give their semi-apologetic press conference at the end of the day, where they partially own up. Exactly what they were going to say was clearly pre-planned, and I'd be astonished if Lehmann rather than Warner wasn't involved in those discussions. I'd be equally surprised if Warner was
involved in these discussions, as I doubt he's considered any expert in media management. But at this meeting, they cooked up this BS about sticky tape and pitch rubble.
The press conference goes badly. The Aussie team (indeed everyone) underestimates the backlash about confessing to the cheating. Smith also uses the term "leadership group", which implicates and p*sses off lots of other people for lots of reasons.
In response the to the public furor, CA panics and sends over their investigator and senior management. They also revert to their typical MO and decide to thrown Bancroft under a bus and organise sending over Renshaw, and organise appropriate press.
(This bit is supposition on my part) Lehmann and the players probably get together to decide how to handle the Roy investigation, but Warner isn't included in this group: he can't be trusted to keep his story straight (or even agree to the story they've chosen to run). During the investigation, the players repeat their (probably) pre-arranged accounts of what happened, designed to contain the damage to Warner, Smith and Bancroft.
In the interview process, Warner initially sticks to the script that he knew nothing etc etc, but during the interview it emerges Smith and Bancroft have detailed Warner coaching Bancroft on how to tamper with the ball. Warner has then "come clean", and admitted what he's been doing, and fingered everyone else in the team as knowing all about it, including Starc and Lehmann.
During the course of the interviews, accusations made by Warner are put to the other players - who could only know they came from Warner if they were true
(or were inappropriately told by Roy) - and they are *really* pissed off Warner has dobbed them in. (Geoff Lemon wrote a good piece on this).
This instigates further leaking to the press: the story from Caddock about the bowlers being p*ssed at Warner, and the "unnamed source" (presumed to be Warner) that the bowlers all knew reported by ninemsn. Warner is clearly ostracised from the team after this.
As for Lehmann, I don't buy for one second Sutherland's description that he said 'WTF is going on?" when he sent the radio message to Hanscomb on the bench.
For starters, Lehmann deliberately concealed his lips from the TV cameras. Hanscomb's immediate reaction to the "question" was to initially say "f*ck off!", and then he paused for a bit wondering exactly what he should do. The next bit of footage of him shows him speaking to Bancroft through gritted teeth, then turning away and saying to no-one in particular "this is bullsh*t". Bancroft says nothing. Bancroft subsequently puts the sandpaper down his pants.
The circumstantial evidence is that Lehmann sent out a message "you've been busted, hide the stuff".
Whether or not this is what Lehmann and the players told Roy is anyone's guess. But I think it's clear Lehmann was involved in more than just attempting to downplay the incident. Accessory after the fact (at least).
IMHO Lehmann has most likely been allowed to resign with his reputation intact, or at least not further sullied by published adverse findings from Cricket Australia. The only reason I could even imagine this might be the case is Cricket Australia wishing to avoid Lehmann going public with whatever else he knows.
Similarly IMHO Starc is serving an unofficial suspension, and a "fine" of his IPL earnings. If so, I expect it's because the rumours Starc made threats about what might happen if Warner wasn't removed from the touring party are probably true.
I think it boils down to two possibilities:
(1) Warner went rouge, has been sandpapering the ball for some time, yet managed to keep it a complete secret from all and sundry. At least until he decided to tell Bancroft and instruct him on how to take over his "job".
(2) Warner has been sandpapering the ball for some time, and everyone (who matters) at least knew about it, or had instructed him to do it.
Generally I'm a "it's a stuffup rather than a conspiracy" man. But in this case I think the idea one of the stupidest members of the Aussie cricket team in some decades (and that's saying something) could keep a secret (then inexplicably reveal it to a junior member of the team) is just implausible.