By Aaron Miller-
Disgraced former Australian cricket captain Steve Smith broke down in tears as he apologised at a press conference for his role in the ball tampering scandal in South Africa
The former golden boy of Australian cricket was sent home from South Africa by Cricket Australia, having been stripped of his captaincy and handed a 12-month ban. The full impact of his professional misdemeanor hit home as soon as his plane landed in Sydney. He was deeply apologetic and broken at the daunting prospect of having to face the plethora of media outlets awaiting his televised response to his country.
Cameron Bancroft earlier in the evening faced the media with less emotion when he landed in Perth and fronted the media. Smith was undoubtedly ashamed of his actions and the impact it had on his family
He said he “hopes in time he can earn back respect and forgiveness”.
Smith told the conference at Sydney Airport: “Cricket is the greatest sport in the world.
“It’s been my life and I hope it can be again.
“I’m sorry and I’m absolutely devastated.”
Smith, who joins vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft in facing punishment for their conduct, added that he “doesn’t blame anyone”.
He continued: “I’m the captain of the Australian team.
“It’s on my watch and I take responsibility for what happened last Saturday.”
The banned cricketer wept when asked about how recent events had impacted his mum and dad, before telling gathered journalists the message he would send to children who love the sport.
“I’ll say two things, three things, he said with his face full of shame, regret, and brokenness.
“Firstly, I’m deeply sorry, I love the game of cricket, I love entertaining young kids, I love kids wanting to play the great game of cricket that I love.
“The two other things is: any time you think about making a questionable decision, think about who you’re affecting. You’re affecting your parents and to see the way my old man’s been, it hurts.”
Smith then forgot the third point he intended to make before he broke down, adding: “I can’t remember what else.”
Before leaving the conference he said: “I just want to say I’m sorry for the pain that I guess I’ve brought to Australia and the fans and the public.
“It’s devastating and I’m truly sorry.”
Bancroft was captured on camera rubbing the ball with sandpaper, with it quickly emerging that the conspiracy was Warner’s idea and involved a “leadership group” that including Smith and Bancroft.
The press conferences came as the International Cricket Council announced it is launching a worldwide review of player conduct.
Cricket Australia has banned Smith and Warner for 12 months for their roles in the ball-tampering plot, while Bancroft has been hit with a nine-month suspension.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “We’ve seen a number of incidents of poor player behaviour in recent weeks which has included ugly sledging, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off and ball tampering.”
Ringleader and former vice-captain David Warner apologised to fans “all over the world”.
Warner, who Cricket Australia said was responsible for the “development” of the cheating plans, tweeted that his actions were a “stain on the game we all love”.
Warner was identified by Cricket Australia as the culprit of the events that during the third Test in Cape Town, where the three players conspired to alter the state of the ball with sandpaper. had earlier made his first public comments since also being stripped of the vice-captaincy and banned for 12 months.
Addressing “cricket fans in Australia and all over the world”, he wrote: “Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket. I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it. I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans.