Sat, Dec 22, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Smith reveals details of ball-tampering debacle

Reuters, SYDNEY

Former Australia captain Steve Smith speaks to reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Former Australia captain Steve Smith yesterday said he was not involved in planning to tamper with the ball during their Test against South Africa in Cape Town, but took responsibility as a leader for failing to put a stop to it.

Smith, vice captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were suspended over the ball-tampering incident, which shocked the cricket world and torpedoed Australia’s sporting reputation.

Facing Australian media for the first time since his teary apology at a news conference at Sydney Airport on March 29, Smith said he had learned of the plan when he overheard a conversation in the team’s dressing room at Newlands.

“I think it’s been documented pretty heavily, sort of, what went on,” he told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground. “For me in the room, I walked past something and had the opportunity to stop it, and I didn’t do it and that was my leadership failure.”

“It was the potential for something to happen and it went on and happened out in the field,” he said. “I had the opportunity to stop it at that point rather than say: ‘I don’t want to know anything about it’ and that was my failure of leadership.”

Smith declined to name the players involved, but reiterated that he had told them: “I don’t want to know about it,” and then walked away.

Smith has kept a low media profile since the scandal, but in recent weeks has made gradual moves to rehabilitate his public image and joined his former Australia teammates at training sessions.

Smith has also tested the waters to see how his brand power has fared in the wake of the incident, linking up with the local arm of Britain’s Vodafone Group to shoot an advertisement that played on his shame and hopes of redemption.

The commercial was criticized by some media pundits and generated mixed responses on social media.

Smith said he was getting paid for the campaign, but also “putting forward” funds from it to Gotcha4Life, a local men’s mental health charity.

The 29-year-old added that it had been tough at times watching Australia play from the sidelines and said he was determined to break back into the one-day side for the May 30 to July 14 World Cup, and the Test team for the Ashes beyond that.

“I’m just moving forward day to day, doing what I need to do to prepare to hopefully get another opportunity to play for Australia, and if that’s the World Cup and Ashes, so be it,” Smith told reporters.

“No doubt the English crowd will be incredibly hostile. I’m ready for that if that happens,” he added. “I’ll keep working hard and if I get that opportunity again, that’d be great.”

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