Sydney: A crestfallen Steven Smith, on Thursday (March 29), broke down on several occasions while taking ‘full responsibility’ of the ball-tampering incident that has shaken Australian cricket. Smith, who spoke to the media upon landing in Sydney, tendered an unconditional apology to the entire country and cricket fraternity.
“To all my of team mates, fans of cricket all over the world and all Australians who are disappointed and angry, I am sorry,” said an emotional Smith. “What happened in Cape Town has already been laid out by CA. Tonight, I want to make it clear that as captain of Australia, I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgment and now understand the consequences. That was a failure of leadership, my leadership.”
Smith, who has been banned by Cricket Australia for one year from all international and domestic cricket, has been banned from participating in the upcoming edition of the IPL too. Cricket Australia charged Smith with a breach of Article 2.3.5 of the CA Code of Conduct, that included five points, majorly revolving around hatching a plan to alter the condition of the ball before concealing the information from the match officials and misleading public comments.
“I will do everything I can (to make up) for my mistake and the damage it has caused. If any good can come from this, it can be a lesson to others, I can hope to be a force of change to others. 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 have been so privileged and honored to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team.
“Cricket is the greatest game in the world, it has been my life and hope it can be again. I am sorry and absolutely devastated,” he added.
Ever since Smith admitted to have pre-meditated the ball-tampering ploy along with his ‘leadership group’, there have been questions asked of him and his team to have attempted the same in the past as well. However, Smith quashed such claims and clarified that it was the first time he had seen such an event take place. He also owned up to the entire episode and took full responsibility of all that has transpired in the past few days.
“To my knowledge this has never happened before, this is the first time I have seen it happen and I can assure it will never happen again. I don’t blame anyone. I am the captain of the Australian team and it is on my watch, I take responsibility of what happened last Saturday in Cape Town.”
In the aftermath of the incident, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, too, had expressed his disappointment over the entire episode. While CA Chairman David Peever made it clear that the episode had gone well beyond the technical nature of the offences and various codes of conduct, CEO James Sutherland too highlighted how the board had to re-engage with its cricket fans and rebuild respect and pride of the sport in the country. A distraught Smith confessed to have hurt those sentiments, especially of all the kids who love and want to take up the sport.
“I will say two things, well three things. Firstly, I am deeply sorry. I love the game of cricket. I love entertaining young kids. I love kids wanting to play the game of cricket that I love. The two other things is anytime you think about making a questionable decision, think about who you are affecting, you are affecting your parents. To see my old man and mum, it hurts. I just want to say I am sorry for the pain I have brought to Australia, the fans and the public, it is devastating and I am truly sorry,”