Former Australia captain Steve Smith has apologised and taken responsibility for the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
In a press conference held shortly after his return to Australia, a tearful Smith said: “I want to make clear that as captain of the Australian cricket team, I want to take full responsibility.
“I made a serious error in judgement.
“It was a failure of leadership, my leadership.
“I will do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it’s caused.
“If any good is to come from this it can be a lesson for others and 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. Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It’s been my life and I hope it will be again.”
Smith insisted this was the only instance of ball-tampering in the Australian team of which he was aware. “To my knowledge this has never happened before. It is the first time, and it will never happen again.”
When asked if he blamed David Warner, he said: “I don’t blame anyone, I’m the captain, it’s on my watch and I take responsibility for what happened in Cape Town.”
Asked for a message to his young fans, Smith said: “I say two things, or three things. 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 that, any time you think about making a questionable decision, think about who you’re affecting, you’re affecting your parents.
“To see the way my old man’s been, it hurts. I just want to say I’m sorry for the pain that I’ve brought to Australia and the fans and the public, it’s devastating and I’m truly sorry.”