‘I’m sorry and I’m absolutely devastated’ – Smith
Former Australia captain Steven Smith will not challenge his 12-month ban from international and domestic cricket, and his 12-month ban from leadership positions thereafter, imposed by Cricket Australia for his role in the ball-tampering incident in the Cape Town Test against South Africa.
“I would give anything to have this behind me and be back representing my country,” Smith said on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. “But I meant what I said about taking full responsibility as captain of the team. I won’t be challenging the sanctions. They’ve been imposed by CA to send a strong message and I have accepted them.”
Smith’s acceptance of the ban means that he will be able to return to top-flight cricket only around April 2019, about two months before the World Cup is due to begin in England.
The two other banned players – David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – have not yet announced whether they too would accept the sanctions, or take the matter to a hearing. Warner was banned for 12 months as well, while Bancroft was banned for nine. Warner was also banned from holding leadership positions in Australian cricket for life, while Bancroft was banned from the same for 12 months.
A day before Smith said he would not be challenging the sanctions, the Australian Cricketers’ Association had said the punishments were “disproportionate” to the gravity of the offence – ball-tampering – and appealed to CA to reduce them.
The ball-tampering controversy that erupted on the third day of the Newlands Test, when Bancroft was caught on camera rubbing the ball with sandpaper, also led to Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann resigning at the end of the Test series in South Africa. In the days after the incident, a CA investigation claimed that Warner had come up with the idea and got Bancroft to tamper with the ball, while Smith was in knowledge of the plan and did not prevent it.
Even before CA’s investigation was complete, following the uproar from the public and the government in Australia, the board had stood down Smith and Warner as captain and vice-captain ahead of the fourth day of the Cape Town Test. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was appointed captain, and Smith and Warner took the field under him as Australia lost the Test that day.
The three players involved were sent home ahead of the final Test in Johannesburg, but before they left South Africa, CA chief executive James Sutherland informed them of their sanctions. Smith and Bancroft held emotional press conferences during which they expressed extreme remorse as soon as they touched down in Sydney and Perth respectively on March 29. Warner held his press conference on March 31 and also broke down while expressing regret over his conduct in South Africa.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.