Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland says the investigation has cleared everyone but Smith, Warner and Bancroft of any involvement in the ball-tampering scandal, but a host of big-name former stars have rejected the outcome.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on March 28, 2018

“The key finding is that prior knowledge of the ball-tampering incident was limited to three players — captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.”

This update from Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland on the ongoing investigation by CA head of integrity Iain Roy has not gone down well.

Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke says the truth is yet to come out, and his assertions have been strongly backed by a host of former players, who also refuse to believe the so-called “leadership group” that Smith blamed for the decision to cheat only consisted of himself and Warner.

It is hard to fathom that the fast bowlers were not aware, when it would have been their job to turn the roughed-up ball into wickets with reverse swing. Particularly when you consider Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are two of the more senior members of the team with close to 80 test appearances between them.

Former English wicketkeeper Matt Prior said it was unthinkable that the quicks would have been kept out of the loop.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was more succinct, tweeting: “Only 3 people knew…… #MyArse”.

Former Australian test batsman Adam Voges was a rare voice in support of the findings.

“Being in a cricketing change room throughout the last 16 years of my life, the lunchtime break is not generally a time where you sit down purely as a group and discuss a lot of things,” Voges said on SEN radio in Melbourne.

“It isn’t really until you step back onto the field and the captain has a bit of a say about what the plans are coming up to the next session that everybody is together again at the same time. So I think it’s genuinely possible that the three guys that have already been mentioned are the only guys who did know about it at the time.”

Sutherland — who is under fire himself over his handling of the situation — also said the probe has cleared Darren Lehmann and he will carry on coaching the team.

This flies in the face of The Telegraph UK exclusive, which claimed unnamed sources in Australia were adamant Lehmann would resign within 24 hours.

He has also been unusually quiet since the drama has unfolded.

Kevin Pietersen for one isn’t buying it.

Sutherland has been CEO of Cricket Australia since 2001.

In actions that have brought into question his ability to lead, he admitted in a press conference in Australia on Sunday that he had not spoken with Smith, despite the captain admitting hours earlier that he had brought the game into disrepute.

He also sent high performance manager Pat Howard and Roy over to South Africa in advance of him. Then when he did make it over there and spoke to the media about Smith, Warner and Bancroft being sent home, he also admitted he had not even spoken to all three men.

Tim Paine will take over as captain, and Matthew Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell are en route to South Africa to replace the three being sent home to face the heat.