Former Australia captain Steve Smith on Thursday apologised to cricket fans around the world after being banned for 12 months for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Addressing the media for the first time since he was banned and sent home by Cricket Australia, a very emotional Smith said, “To all of my teammates, to fans of cricket all over the world, and to all Australians who are disappointed and angry, I am sorry.”
He added, “As captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgement and I understand the consequences. It was a failure of my leadership.”
Smith later broke down while saying, “I’ll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it has caused. If any good can come from this, if it can be a lesson to others, then I hope I can be a force for change.”
He added, “I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I am absolutely gutted. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness. “I’ve been so privileged to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world; it has been my life and I hope it can be again. I am sorry and I am absolutely devastated.”
Asked why he did it, Smith replied, “Good people make mistakes. I’ve made a big mistake by allowing this to happen. It was a huge error of judgement on my part.”
Cricket Australia’s investigation found that Australia vice-captain David Warner had thought up the plan and instructed teammate Cameron Bancroft on how to tamper with the ball using sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.
The Australian board also found that Smith knew about the plan and failed to take steps to prevent its implementation. Smith, however, refused to blame Warner when he was asked about his vice-captain’s role.
Smith reiterated that he was taking full responsibility for his teammates’ actions. “It was a failure of my leadership. It was a huge error of judgement on my behalf,” he said.
Asked if the Australian team had ever tampered with the ball before this instance, Smith denied it, saying, “To my knowledge this has never happened before. I can assure you it will never happen again.”
He added, “I’m deeply sorry for the pain I’ve brought to Australia and cricket fans.”