Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Distraught Smith breaks down as he accepts blame for cheat scandal

Distraught Smith breaks down as he accepts blame for cheat scandal

Cricketer Steve Smith reacts at a press conference at Sydney airport on Thursday after returning from South Africa where he was embroiled in a ball-tampering scandal in the third Test. AFP
Cricketer Steve Smith reacts at a press conference at Sydney airport on Thursday after returning from South Africa where he was embroiled in a ball-tampering scandal in the third Test. AFP

Distraught Smith breaks down as he accepts blame for cheat scandal

Distraught former Australian cricket captain Steve Smith accepted full responsibility on Thursday for a ball-tampering scandal that has shaken the sport, breaking down in tears while denying it had ever happened before.

Cricket Australia have banned Smith and David Warner from all international and domestic cricket for a year, while opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was exiled for nine months over attempted cheating during the third Test in South Africa

Smith, a golden boy compared to Donald Bradman for his batting exploits, was a broken man at an emotional press conference on his arrival back in Sydney from Johannesburg.

“I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgement and I understand the consequences. It was a failure of leadership,” he said, choking back tears as he was comforted by his father Peter.

“I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I am absolutely gutted. Cricket is my life and hope it can be again. I’m sorry. I’m absolutely devastated.”

Smith’s fall from grace has been dramatic – and fast.

He was jeered as he made his way through Johannesburg airport on Wednesday, surrounded by police and media with concerns over his mental state in the current rabid climate and coach Darren Lehmann calling for all three men to be “given a second chance”.

Former great Shane Warne, no stranger himself to controversy, offered the trio an olive branch despite days of a harsh and judgemental Australian public baying for blood.

“What the public wants to see is change. They want to see you be a better person,” he wrote in a column for the Sydney Daily Telegraph. “They’ll support you if they see that, and they’ll forgive you.”

‘Warner: ‘Stain on the game’

Warner, a divisive figure who was charged with developing the plot and instructing Bancroft to carry it out, also broke his silence to say sorry and admit his actions had been “a stain on the game”.

“Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket,” he told his 1.6 million Instagram followers as he made his way back to Sydney.

“I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it.

“It’s a stain on the game we all love and I have loved since I was a boy,” he added.

In handing out their tough punishment, cricket chiefs bowed to uproar at home where sportsmen and women are held in high esteem and expected to act in the best interests of the game.

Bancroft: ‘I ask forgiveness’

An emotional Bancroft said he was ashamed of himself when he arrived back in Perth.

“All I can do in the short term is ask for forgiveness,” he said, while denying he had ever tampered with a ball before, in comments echoed by Smith.

“I have made a big mistake for allowing this to happen,” said Smith.

“This is the first time I have seen this happen and it will never be happening again.”

Smith – the world’s No1 Test batsman – was charged with knowledge of the potential ball-altering plan, while Warner was charged with developing the plot and instructing Bancroft to carry it out.

CA said Bancroft, who has played just eight Tests, had illegally attempted to “artificially alter the condition of the ball using sandpaper”.

It added that Smith had continued to try to cover up the cheating plot by issuing “misleading public comments regarding the nature, extent and participants of the plan”.

In a further blow, it ruled Smith and Bancroft would not be considered for team leadership positions until a minimum of 12 months after the end of their suspensions, and Warner will never lead again.

While they are banned from top-level cricket, they can still play at club level in Australia or in other countries.

Lehmann remains in charge because Cricket Australia said he was unaware of what was going on.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine will take over the Australian captaincy for the fourth and final Test starting in Johannesburg on Friday, with Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns drafted in as replacements.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • NOCC to contest petanque, tennis axe

    The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia will lobby hard over the next few weeks for the inclusion of the Kingdom’s most productive medal-earning sport, petanque, along with vovinam and tennis after the disciplines were left out of the initial list of 30 preferred sports for