Australia's coach Darren Lehmann will step down after the fourth Test against South Africa ends. The team's captain Steve Smith returned to Australia and broke down as he took "full responsibility" for the ball-tempering plot in Cape Town.
A tearful Darren Lehmann said on Thursday he would quit as coach of the scandal-tainted Australia cricket team after the fourth and final Test of the ongoing series in South Africa following a ball-tampering scandal that has rocked cricket.
"This will be my last Test as head coach of the Australian cricket team," Lehmann told a press conference on the eve of the match.
"Saying goodbye to the players was the toughest thing I have ever had to do.
"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.
"I really felt for Steve and, as you see, I'm crying in front of the media. All the players are really hurting."
TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic reports from Sydney.
Speaking in Johannesburg soon after Lehmann's announcement, Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland said he wanted to pay tribute to the coach.
"He provided fantastic service and has been part of a very successful team that has achieved a lot during his time.
"I have seen first hand the pride in which he has gone about his work and the love he has for the job and his incredible work ethic. He genuinely loves and respects his players."
Lehmann, who was due to leave the job after the 2019 Ashes series in England, is going despite being cleared of any role in the scandal.
Steve Smith breaks down in news conference
For former Australia cricket captain Steve Smith, it was reality television at its most heart-wrenchingly real.
Having lost the captaincy after the scandal in South Africa, Smith returned to Australia on Thursday night and broke down several times in a nationally televised news conference at Sydney airport.
Smith started crying as he reflected on the effect his involvement in a ball-tampering plot in the Cape Town test last weekend had on his parents, and he apologised for the pain he's caused them and the Australian public.
In his first public comments following his 12-month ban from the Australian cricket team, Smith took responsibility for the scandal.
"I just want to say I'm sorry for the pain that I've brought to Australia and the fans and the public," he said. "It's devastating and I'm truly sorry."
It has been a tumultuous 24 hours for Smith, who left South Africa in disgrace after being sent home by Cricket Australia.
At Johannesburg airport, he was led through the international terminal by up to six police and security guards, hearing boos and taunts of "cheater" from a crowd that had gathered at the airport.
Smith and Cameron Bancroft fronted news conferences on opposite sides of Australia, while the third player involved in the controversial ball-tampering scandal in South Africa – David Warner – used social media to issue an apology while still in the air.
'Serious error of judgement'
Smith, wearing a sports jacket and drawing deep breaths as he spoke, addressed the fans and the children of Australia who wanted to know why he'd cheated.
"Firstly. I'm deeply sorry. I love the game of cricket. I love kids wanting to play the great game of cricket that I love," he said. "Any time you're thinking of making a questionable decision. Think about who you're affecting."
"You're affecting your parents. To see the way my old man has been ...," Smith, stopping briefly to cry, continued, "... and my mum. It hurts."
Smith said as the captain of the Australian team, he had to "take full responsibility."
"I made a serious error of judgment, and I know and understand the consequences," he said. "It was a failure of my leadership. I will do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it has caused. If any good can come from this, then I hope I can be a force for change.
"I will regret this for the rest of my life, I am absolutely gutted, I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness."
Bancroft holds back tears
Nearly 4,000 km west, an emotional Bancroft apologized at Perth, Western Australia and said he will forever regret his role in the episode that resulted in 12-month bans for team leaders Smith and Warner and a nine-month ban for him.
Warner was scheduled to arrive back in Sydney late Thursday night but was not planning to speak to the media.
"Not a second has gone by when I wish I could turn back time. It is something I will regret for the rest of my life," Bancroft said. "All I can do in the short term is to ask for forgiveness."
Bancroft has only played eight tests since replacing Matt Renshaw in the Australian lineup. Now Renshaw has been recalled to replace him.
"The thing that breaks my heart is that I have given up my spot in the team for free," he said, holding back tears. "People know I worked so hard to get to this point in my career and to have given up that chance is devastating."
The ball-tampering scandal involving the three Australian cricketers has rocked the world of cricket, leaving the team's fans shocked.
Oliver Miocic reports for TRT World from Sydney.
A Cricket Australia investigator found that Warner instructed Bancroft how to carry out the tampering with a piece of sandpaper during a break in play on the third day of the third cricket test against South Africa.
Bancroft initially told a news conference in Cape Town last Saturday that he used adhesive tape and dirt to attempt to alter the shape of the ball. It was later proved to be sandpaper that Bancroft had used.
"I lied about the sandpaper," Bancroft explained. "I panicked in that situation. I'm embarrassed by that. I have never ever been involved in tampering with the ball and it clearly compromises my values and what I stand for as a player and as a person."
Warner, who has lost two sponsors already, posted a statement on Twitter and Instagram to say he is on his way back to Australia from South Africa and added, "You will hear from me in a few days."
"Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket. I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it," he said. "I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans."
Sponsors pull out
Smith and Warner were banned from playing for Australia, or any high-level cricket in Australia, for a year. They've also been barred by Indian authorities from the lucrative IPL.
Smith won't be considered eligible to regain the test captaincy for at least two years, Cricket Australia said. Warner will never again be considered for a leadership role in an Australian team.
Sporting goods company ASICS scrapped sponsorship deals Warner and Bancroft. Electronics company LG on Wednesday said it would not renew its soon-to-expire deal with Warner.
Cereal company Sanitarium on Thursday said it was ending its relationship with Smith.
Reports in the Australian media estimate the suspensions could cost Smith and Warner 5 million Australian dollars (US$3.8 million) each in lost earnings and endorsements.
The Australia Cricketers' Association has foreshadowed potential appeals by the banned players.
"There are a number of glaring and clear anomalies in the process to date which causes the ACA to query the severity and proportionality of the proposed sanctions," the ACA said in a statement.
The ACA said the grading and sanctions for the players were well above what the ICC had implemented and that the bans were not reasonable on a world scale.