A shaken and tearful Steve Smith addressed the media at Sydney Airport on Thursday evening (local time) for the first time since his now notorious press conference during the third Test in South Africa where he admitted to the ball tampering plot and sent the cricket world into a spin.
He had just touched down after being sent back home from South Africa for his part in the ball tampering fiasco.
The former Australian captain was given a one-year ban and barred from assuming a leadership position for a further 12 months after serving his suspension, following an internal investigation by Cricket Australia.
He has also been banned from the lucrative Indian Premier League by that country’s cricket control board.
Speaking to reporters, Smith apologised to his teammates and cricket fans in Australia and around the world.
“There was a failure of leadership… of my leadership,” he said.
“I’ll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it’s caused.
“If any good can come of this, if there can be a lesson to others then I hope I can be a force for change.
“I know I’ll regret this for the rest of my life. I’m absolutely gutted. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness.”
The investigation found that the plan to use sandpaper was cooked up by his deputy, David Warner who instructed and demonstrated to his rookie opening partner, Cameron Bancroft how to scuff-up the ball.
Smith was sanctioned for breaking CA’s code of conduct as he knew about the ploy but neither intervened nor reported it.
It was also found that the 28-year old instructed Bancroft to conceal the sandpaper as the team were making their way back onto the field after a break.
He took full responsibility for his part: “I don’t blame anyone. I am the captain of the Australian team, I take responsibility for what happened on last Saturday.”
Smith’s statement follows that of Bancroft who also addressed the media on arrival at Perth on Thursday.
Warner also issued an apology and promised to speak out further on the matter in the coming days.