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Cheating Trio Issue Emotional Apologies, Lehmann Steps Down, while Sponsors Ditch Australian Cricket

The three players at the centre of the Australian cricket ball-tampering scandal have issued emotional apologies on their return home, Darren Lehmann has stood down as Head Coach, while major sponsors ditch the sport.

What you need to know
  • Smith, Warner and Bancroft deliver emotional apologies after arriving back in Australia.
  • Darren Lehmann resigns as coach of the Australian Men's Team.
  • Cricket Australia set to lose millions as major sponsors flee.

Heart-wrenching public apologies from Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have prompted Darren Lehmann to step down from his role as head coach, but they weren't enough to stop major sponsors severing ties with the embattled sport.

Cricketing Trio Deliver Emotional Apologies

The disgraced trio at the centre of the ball-tampering scandal have issued emotional apologies after arriving back in Australia.

Former Australian captain Steve Smith, and team Vice-Captain David Warner, were slapped with 12-month bans from the in international side for their role in the cheating plan, while opening batsman Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban.

Bancroft was the first to front the media, after landed in Perth on Thursday evening. The emotional batsmen told reporters at the WACA he “lied and panicked” in the days following the infamous incident.

Cameron Bancroft delivers his apology at the WACA. Image: Getty Images

“I want to say that I am very sorry. I love the game of cricket and playing for my nation and my state, there is no greater pride for me,” he said.

“I am extremely disappointed and regret my actions.

"I am sorry to the people who have looked up to me around the world, especially the kids. I know I’m a role model and haven’t acted like one in this instance.

Hours later, Smith touched down in Sydney, before delivering an emotionally-charged apology at Sydney Airport.

Fighting back tears, Smith called the events in Cape Town a “failure of leadership, and took “full responsibility” for the cheating scandal.

Emotions become too much for Steve Smith, as he fronts media at Sydney Airport. Image Getty Images

"To all of my teammates, to fans of cricket all over the world and to all Australians who are disappointed and angry: I'm sorry," he said.

"I made a serious error of judgement and I now understand the consequences. I'll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it's caused. I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I'm absolutely gutted. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness."

Warner first took to social media to issue his apology as he flew in to Sydney on a separate flight, saying “mistakes has been made” in relation to the scandal.

“I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it. I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans,” he tweeted.

“It’s a stain on the game we all love and I have loved since I was a boy.”

On Saturday, Warner finally faced the music, tearfully telling reporters that he is “resigned to the fact” he may never represent his country in the sport again.

"To the fans and the lovers of the game who have supported and inspired me on my journey as a cricketer, I want to sincerely apologise for betraying your trust in me," he said.

"I have let you down badly. I hope in time I can find a way to repay you for all you've given me and possibly earn your respect again."

The trio have all accepted their bans with Cricket Australia and will not appeal their punishments.

Lehmann Resigns as Australian Head Coach

Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann has made the shock announcement he will step down from his role at the conclusion the Test series in South Africa.

Lehmann told reporters on Friday in Cape Town his decision came after watching Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft make their emotional apologies the day before.

“I just want to let you know this will be by my last Test as head coach of the Australian cricket team as I’m stepping down,” he said.

“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.

After increasing pressure to step down, Darren Lehmann announces his resignation. Image: Getty Images

Lehmann said he was “ultimately responsible” for the culture of the team, and that it was “only fair” he resigned.

“As I stated before I had no prior knowledge of the incident and do not condone what happened. But good people can make mistakes."

Lehmann was cleared of having any part in the cheating plan hatched by the playing group by the Cricket Australia investigation.

Major Sponsors Flee Cricket Australia

The blows keep coming for Cricket Australia, Smith, Warner and Bancroft, as major sponsors flee in the wake of the cheating scandal.

Magellan Financial Group, which had the naming rights to the 2017/2018 Ashes and the men’s domestic series for three years, is the latest company to pull its sponsorship deal with Cricket Australia.

In a statement, the investment group said its contract had been formed on “shared values” between Magellan and Cricket Australia, but that it could no longer be upheld.

Magellan advertising will no longer be seen after they cancelled their partnership with Cricket Australia. Image: Getty Images

“Magellan Financial Group Limited today announces the termination of its three-year partnership with Cricket Australia as the naming rights sponsor of the Australian men’s domestic Test series,” it said.

“The three-year partnership that Magellan signed with Cricket Australia in August 2017, which commenced with the recent Ashes series, was based on shared values and reputations of integrity, leadership, dedication and an unwavering customer-first culture.”

Hamish Douglass, co-founder and CEO of Magellan, said the recent events were “inconsistent with our values” and the company left with “no option” but to sever ties.

“A conspiracy by the leadership of the Australian Men’s Test cricket team which broke the rules with a clear intention to gain an unfair advantage during the third test in South Africa goes to the heart of integrity,” he said.

“Regrettably, these recent events are so inconsistent with our values that we are left with no option but to terminate our ongoing partnership with Cricket Australia.

“We were delighted with the recent Magellan Ashes Series sponsorship and it is with a heavy heart that we have to end our partnership in these circumstances.”

It comes after a slew of companies around the country look to distant themselves from the cheating scandal, with players Steve Smith and David Warner possibly set to lose $4.6 million worth of sponsorship deals.

Steve Smith was removed from the Sanitarium Weetbix website earlier in the week, with the company confirming to Ten Eyewitness News on Thursday it had “ended its relationship” with the player.

SOURCE: Youtube/ Sanitarium

“On the back of the admission of ball tampering by the Australian Cricket team, Sanitarium has ended its relationship with Steve Smith as a Weet-Bix brand ambassador,"  it said in a statement.

In the statement, Todd Saunders, Executive General Manager for Sanitarium Australia, said the company is “unable to continue” the relationship with Smith as an ambassador, as he no longer represented the values of company.

“Weet-Bix ambassadors represent our brand values of trust and integrity, and they speak to everything that is good about being Australian. Their role as a ‘Weet-Bix Kid’ is to inspire millions of Aussie kids to be the best they can be,” he said.

"Termination of the sponsorship contract is effective immediately."

"Based on the ball tampering incident and the findings of Cricket Australia’s investigation, we are unable to continue our relationship with Steve Smith."

ASICS Australia, whose logo is visible in the infamous footage of Cameron Bancroft tampering with the ball, confirmed on Twitter this morning that sponsorship deals with Warner and Bancroft had been terminated, “effective immediately”.

“As a result of last weekend’s events in Cape Town involving members of the Australian men’s cricket team and following the sanctions made by Cricket Australia, ASICS has terminated its sponsorship contracts with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, effective immediately,” it said.

LG Electronics has also confirmed it will not renew its partnership with David Warner in the final weeks of their sponsorship contract.

“LG’s current sponsorship of David Warner is in the final weeks and in light of recent events, we have decided not to renew our partnership,” it said in a statement.

“LG Australia will always look to work with ambassadors that share our core brand values and we take these relationships incredibly seriously to ensure we put our customers, employees and stakeholders first.”

It is estimated the fallout from the scandal could cost Cricket Australia and players up to $1 billion in sponsorship deals.