CAPE TOWN – A tearful former Australian captain Steve Smith has refused to blame chief instigator David Warner for the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed the cricketing world.
Smith, whose father Peter was by his side, addressed the Australian media upon arrival at Sydney Airport on Thursday, and broke down crying at one point when speaking about how the saga has affected his parents.
The World’s No 1 batsman expressed his regret about what happened on the third day of the third Test against the Proteas at Newlands last Saturday, and did not point fingers at his erstwhile vice-captain Warner, who was identified by the Cricket Australia investigation as the senior player who instructed Cameron Bancroft to use sandpaper to tamper with the ball.
“No, I don’t blame anyone. As I said, I’m the captain of the Australian team. It’s on my watch and I take responsibility for the actions of what happened last Saturday in Cape Town,” Smith said.
“I’m sorry. What happened in Cape Town has already been laid down by Cricket Australia. I want to make it clear that as captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility.
“I made a serious error of judgement, and I now understand the consequences. It was a failure of leadership… of my leadership.
“I will do everything to make up for my mistake, and the damage it’s caused. If any good can come of this, if it can be a lesson to others, then I hope I can be a force for change.”
Smith was adamant that his team had not tampered with the ball before, despite persistent rumours that Warner’s heavily-bandaged hands contained sandpaper, which would explain the excessive reverse swing Australia generated in the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
“To my knowledge, this has never happened before. This is the first time I’ve seen this happened, and I can assure you that it will never be happening again,” he said.
“I think for me, my week has been around good people make mistakes, and I’ve made a big mistake by allowing this to happen. It was a huge error in judgement on my behalf, and I’m deeply sorry.”
The 28-year-old said he hoped to win back the respect of Australians and the cricket world, and also warned children about the consequences of making wrong decisions – having been an ambassador for Weet-bix in Australia, who have since ended their sponsorship.
“I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I’m absolutely gutted. I hope in time, I can earn back respect and forgiveness,” said Smith.
“I’ve been so privileged and honoured to represent my country, and captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world – it’s been my life, and I hope it can be again.
“I’m deeply sorry. I love the game of cricket, I love entertaining young kids. I love kids wanting to play the great game of cricket, that I love.
“Anytime you think of making a questionable decision, think about who you are affecting – you are affecting your parents, and to see the way my old man has been… and my mum, it hurts.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for the pain that I guess I’ve brought to Australia and the public. It’s devastating, and I’m truly sorry.”