Proteas

Devastated Lehmann remembers Phil Hughes

2018-03-29 16:02
Darren Lehmann (Gallo)
  Video

An emotional former Australian skipper Steve Smith breaks down in tears as he apologises for his role in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked the third Test at Newlands.

Johannesburg - There have been tears aplenty in Australian cricket over the last 24 hours as a captain and coach were both left shattered. 

READ: Faf du Plessis sends text to 'good guy' Steve Smith

First, Steve Smith fell apart in a Sydney press conference on Thursday morning and then, hours later, coach Darren Lehmann did the same as he stepped down from his post in Johannesburg. 

The reaction to the Newlands ball-tampering scandal has been "unbelievable", says Lehmann. 

In the process, Smith and David Warner have been banned for a year each for their involvement while Cameron Bancroft - the man who did the deed - has been banned for nine months. 

It is, without a doubt, the darkest moment in Australia's cricket history. 

Lehmann, though, provided a dose of perspective at an emotional press conference at the Wanderers on Thursday. 

When asked what his proudest moment as coach was over the past five years, the 48-year-old struggled to get his words out.

"I would say the way we dealt with Philip Hughes," Lehmann eventually offered.

"We’re only playing a game … that’s all we’re playing.

"We lost a great young man and the way we tried to deal with that is probably my proudest moment as coach. You win games and you lose games ... "

Lehmann couldn't finish the sentence, and it was impossible not to feel for him. 

Hughes, an Australian opening batsman, passed away in 2014 when he was struck on the head by a bouncer during an Australian domestic game. 

READ: Proteas to batter reeling Aussies - bookies

Lehmann was coach of the national team at the time and the incident obviously shook the Australian public to its core. 

The backlash over the past few days, Lehmann says, has been difficult to deal with.

"No sleep … nobody has slept," he said.

"That’s the biggest challenge about fronting up tomorrow (Friday). I don’t think I’ve slept since Saturday to be perfectly honest.

"It’s been unbelievable. Watching those two young men (Smith and Bancroft) face the media, and I’m sure Davey (Warner) will be the same … it’s been unbelievable.

"Hopefully it gets back to the game of cricket. There is a game to be loved and enjoyed. I’ve had a great time."

The fourth Test between Australia and the Proteas, starting at Wanderers on Friday, will be Lehmann's last in charge.

Darren Lehmann (Gallo)

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