Australia’s head coach Darren Lehmann was on Tuesday given the clean chit by Cricket Australia in the ball-tampering controversy, while captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft were announced as the only three accused.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said in a press conference on Tuesday evening that an investigation was still being carried out and “significant” sanctions against the three cricketers will be announced in the next 24 hours. The trio will, however, take no further part in the series against South Africa and have been asked to return to Australia.

Matthew Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell will replace the three players in the Test squad for the fourth and final match. Tim Paine, who took over as captain after Smith temporarily stepped down, will continue to lead the side.

Sutherland said that Smith, Warner and Bancroft were the only people in the Australian camp who had prior knowledge of the ball-tampering incident. No one else was aware, including Lehmann and the rest of the support staff, Sutherland revealed. He also said that Lehmann had not resigned as head coach and will continue in his position.

Smith has already been suspended for one Test and docked his entire match fee by the International Cricket Council in a scandal which has seen Australian cricket’s reputation dragged through the mud.

“I understand and share the anger and disappointment of Australian fans,” Sutherland said. “The response from the public is not terribly surprising. It’s a reminder of how important the game is to Australian fans. On behalf of Cricket Australia, I want to apologise to all Australians that these events have taken place, especially to all the kids.”

Sutherland also announced that Cricket Australia will conduct an independent review into the “conduct and culture” of the Australian team. “We will have more to say about this review in the coming days, but it will be conducted by an expert panel who will report to the Cricket Australia Board,” he said.

With inputs from AFP