Darren Lehmann finally breaks his silence

Cape Town - Australian coach Darren Lehmann has finally broken his silence and spoken about the ball-tampering scandal that has disgraced his side.

READ: Aussies caught lying ... AGAIN! It WAS sandpaper!

Lehmann has been silent on the matter since the shocking confession from Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft at Newlands on Saturday, but on Wednesday he offered his thoughts on what has transpired over the last few days. 

Smith and David Warner have been banned from all domestic and international cricket for a year, while Bancroft has copped nine months. 

Lehmann, meanwhile, has come out unscathed after a Cricket Australia investigation revealed he was not aware of the plans to tamper with the ball during the third Test. 

He re-iterated on Wednesday that he would not resign from his post, while he also acknowledged the need for a change in team culture. 

Lehmann had been placed at the centre of the scandal when television footage showed him speaking into a walkie-talkie as the incident was unfolding, seemingly telling 12th man Peter Handscomb to run onto the field and alert Bancroft that he had been spotted doing something dubious on the big screen. 

"The first I saw of it was on that screen and I went straight on the walkie-talkie and said something to Peter," Lehmann explained.

"There were a couple of expletives in there. Then I spoke to some of the players at tea time and said we'd deal with it at the end of play, which obviously happened through the process."

Lehmann added that he had no knowledge whatsoever of the plans, and he is "pretty confident" that this was the first time the side had illegally tampered with the ball. 

The coach, of course, has no way on knowing that for certain. 

Lehmann pleaded with fans and media to give the players "a second chance".

"They have made a grave mistake, but they are not bad people. As a coach you feel for them ... they are hurting, and I feel for them and their families," he said.

"There is a human side of this. They have made a mistake as everyone, including myself, has made mistakes in the past.  

"Their health and well-being is extremely important to us."

The 48-year-old acknowledged that Australian cricket needed to start fresh and build a new, transparent team culture that doesn't push the boundaries.

"The team has been perceived quite negatively in recent times and there is a need for us to change some of the philosophies about the way and how we play," he said.

"From this point forward, we need to work to earn the respect back from all our fans.

"I'd like to apologise to the Australian public and the cricket family. What happened on Saturday is not something that is acceptable, especially from the Australian cricket team.

"As has been made clear by (CEO) James (Sutherland) yesterday and today, the coaches and support staff had no prior knowledge of the incident.

"Like all of Australia we are extremely disappointed and we know we have let so many people down and for that I am truly sorry."

The fourth and final Test gets underway in Johannesburg on Friday.

READ: CONFIRMED: Warner the man behind #SandpaperGate

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