The moment Lehmann knew he had to quit

Rob Forsaith

A teary Darren Lehmann has quit as coach of Australia's cricket team, with footage of a distraught Steve Smith convincing him the time was right to resign.

Australia's fourth Test against South Africa, which starts in Johannesburg on Friday, will be Lehmann's final match in charge.

Lehmann read a prepared statement and took a few questions, struggling to keep his composure.

"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," Lehmann told reporters.

"I really felt for Steve, as I saw him crying in front of the media, and all the players are really hurting.

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Lehmann struggled to contain his emotions. Pic: Getty

"After viewing Steve and Cameron's hurting it's only fair that I make this decision.

"I'm ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I've been thinking about my position for a while."

Lehmann was set to step down when his current contract expired at the end of the 2019 Ashes, but the cheating scandal forced a rethink.

Lehmann became particularly emotional when thanking his wife Andrea and four children for their support.

The face of a tired man. Pic: Getty

"As I stated before I had no prior knowledge of the (ball-tampering) incident and do not condone what happened at all. But good people can make mistakes," he said.

"My family and I have copped a lot of abuse over the last week and it's taken its toll on them."

There were also plenty of tears behind closed doors.

"Speaking to the players and saying goodbye, telling them the news. That was the toughest thing I've ever had to do," Lehmann said.

The sleep-deprived mentor overlooked 2015 World Cup glory and Ashes series wins when asked to nominate his proudest moment as coach.

"The way we dealt with Phillip Hughes," Lehmann sobbed.

"We're only playing a game.

"We lost a great young man and the way we tried to deal with that was my proudest moment as coach."