Lehmann banned for five one-day internationals

Richard Gibson,Pa Sport,Adelaide
Saturday 18 January 2003 01:00

The Australian batsman Darren Lehmann has been banned for five one-day internationals following his racist comments against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

The punishment was meted out by International Cricket Council match referee Clive Lloyd at a formal disciplinary hearing at the Australian team hotel in Adelaide.

Lehmann, captain of both South Australia and Yorkshire, was found guilty of a level three offence which carries a ban of between two and four Test matches or between four and eight one-day internationals.

Having decided not to appeal against the decision, Lehmann will begin his suspension against England at the Adelaide Oval tomorrow and cannot play again in the VB Series.

He might also miss one World Cup match, something he would escape if Australia are taken to a third final in the current triangular series.

Reading a prepared statement following the two-hour hearing, Lloyd said: "I today found Australian Darren Lehmann guilty of a breach of provision 3.4 of the ICC's code of conduct.

"In this instance I have decided that a ban of five one-day internationals is the appropriate point.

"Mr Lehmann has apologised for the remarks and in my decision I took into consideration Darren's impeccable record and other matters put to me about his standing and reputation, and reputation in cricket.

"Darren's comments could be interpreted as deeply offensive and I do not think we can condone such things in sport or life in general."

West Indian great Lloyd reflected upon evidence from three members of the Sri Lankan touring party, including coach Dav Whatmore who heard his racial slur, made in the environs of the dressing room area.

Whatmore, Sri Lankan by birth but Australian-raised, once again pleaded for leniency for Lehmann.

After his outburst at the Gabba, Brisbane, on Wednesday night following his dismissal, Lehmann penned an immediate letter of regret and Lloyd offered an informal reprimand to the player on the back of Sri Lankan requests not to be severe.

However, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed stepped in to make a charge of offensive language and ensure the case was heard in line with the code of conduct.

Both ICC official Lloyd and Lehmann had legal representation at the hearing and the 32-year-old was also flanked by Australian Cricketers' Association chief Tim May.

"I would like to place on record the fact that I had a fair hearing and that I had the opportunity to be heard," said Lehmann, before heading off to the christening of his twins.

"I accept the penalty handed down and would like to say once again how regretful I am the incident took place.

"I meant no offence by my comments and again would like to apologise for making them.

"I would also like to thank the Sri Lankan team for their support and understanding in this matter.

"Finally I would like to wish Michael Clarke all the best with his call-up to the Australian side."

The Australian Cricket Board reacted to Lehmann's outburst on Thursday by organising counselling for the South Australian.

However, he will now be held as an example of the ICC's new crackdown on player conduct.

"We have to abide by a code and it doesn't matter who you are, as sportsmen we have to lead the way," said Lloyd.

"It's not that the players weren't told, they were told before the one-dayers started, everyone was aware.

"I could have given him eight one-dayers and his World Cup would have been out of the window.

"But he still has the chance of playing."

New South Wales batsman Clarke, 21, is a former Australian Under-19 captain and is set for his international debut against England tomorrow.

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