Sydney: While the Australian cricket team is back on the cricket field following the ball-tampering saga, it will take a lot of time to heal the wounds of losing out Steve Smith and David Warner – two of their top batsmen and captain-vice-captain, and a promising young opener Cameron Bancroft following the bans they received in the wake of what transpired in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
The three cricketers are continuing to receive a lot of flak and while there is no escaping the fact that they made a big mistake, their teary-eyed and emotional apologies after their arrival in Australia are stirring.
Here’s the full transcript of Smith, Warner and Bancroft’s apologies as released by Cricket Australia:
Thank you very much for coming along everyone. I've had time to reflect on the events in Cape Town and on the punishments handed down to me by the ICC and Cricket Australia, and I want to say I'm very sorry. I love the game of cricket and playing for my nation and my state, there is no greater pride for me. I am extremely disappointed and regret my actions. I am sorry too, for those people who have looked up to me around the world – especially the kids. I know I am a role model and I have not acted like one in this instance.
I understand I have let many people down, and I understand the disappointment in the broader community. Words don't mean much in these circumstances, so I will focus on my actions and conduct going forward. Not a second has gone by since last Saturday evening when I haven't wished to turn back time and do the right thing during the lunch break. It is something I will regret for the rest of my life. It is something I will look to improve on, and earn the respect back of the community. All I can do in the short term is ask for forgiveness, I hope you can find it in your hearts to let me progress on that journey. For now, I will do my best to contribute to the community. I'm happy to take some questions.
Why did you lie about the sandpaper?
Yes I lied about the sandpaper. I panicked, I panicked in that situation and I'm very sorry.
Were you bullied into this by David Warner?
Look, I'm not here to comment about other players involved. I just want to show how sorry I am. At the end of the day it's my actions and I'm accountable for it here, and they don't reflect on my values and what I've grown up to be, and it's something I'm really ashamed of and I'm so sorry for.
Cam what's your message out there for kids who are wondering what's happened to the game of cricket, and their heroes that have really let them down?
Look I think through this whole experience and whirlwind few days, it's been so obvious to see how important the game of cricket means to Australia and the public, and we're representations of that. For me, it's been a very big wake-up call to myself for what that means, and how amazing an opportunity it is to wear the Baggy Green cap, and you know I feel like I've let everyone down in Australia, and I'm not proud of that, and I know it's going to take time for that to heal, and to earn that respect back from everybody.
Will you play cricket again, do you want to play again?
Yes, absolutely. I think through this, through the last few days and sitting in my own company and just thinking, the thing that breaks my heart the most is I've just given up my spot in the team to somebody else for free. People know I've worked so hard to get to this point in my career, and to know I've just given somebody else an opportunity for free is devastating for me. I know that it's going to be a difficult journey back, but the moment I step foot outside this room is the moment that I take steps forward toward earning that respect back and to get back that dream that I've had as a dream growing up, and that is to play Test cricket for Australia.
Will you contest the length of the penalty?
Look at the moment, I've received the paperwork for my sanction and I respect the process that's going to come with that. I'll work with my manager and we'll move forward with that.
What did Steve Smith say to you following the incident?
In the whole Australian cricket family, everyone's really disappointed about what we've done to the game. It's a great shock to everyone, and a great realisation that we need to improve.
Can you assure fans this was the only time you've done this?
I have never ever been involved in tampering, tampering with the ball. It completely compromises my values and what I stand for as a player and as a person. For Australian cricket it's not acceptable.
Did at any point during it did you almost stop yourself doing it? It sounded like you were fumbling and nervous about doing it in the first place.
Yeah and that's also a really big learning curve for me. I had the opportunity to take control of my own values and my own actions and I didn't. And that's a real embarrassment for me, and I'm sorry for what's entailed since then for that, and that's just a responsibility that I completely take on myself.
Cam, the cricket world knows players have touched up the ball for years and years and decades, why is this so much worse than what goes on in Test cricket, in Shield cricket, in club cricket around the world?
It's so big because you know the action of doing it is completely wrong. For me, to carry out that in front of world cricket, and to be seen breaking the laws of the game, not playing within the spirit of the game – it's completely how cricket shouldn't be played, and it completely compromises, I think, why we play this amazing game. It's going to be a really long road, particularly for myself, it's going to be really difficult to earn that respect back, but I know that for me is the most important thing.
Is it unusual to take sandpaper out onto the field?
Look, I'm not here to comment about that. It was me who carried out the action of using the sandpaper, and it's not good enough, it's embarrassing, and I'm truly sorry.
Good evening, thanks for coming, appreciate it. To all of my teammates, to fans of cricket all over the world, and to all Australians who are disappointed and angry – I'm sorry. What happened in Cape Town has already been laid out by Cricket Australia. Tonight I want to make clear as captain of the Australian Cricket Team, I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgement, and I now understand the consequences. It was a failure of leadership – of my leadership. 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, it's that it can be a lesson to 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, I've been so privileged and honoured to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It's been my life, and I hope it can be again. I'm sorry and I'm absolutely devastated. I'll take some questions.
What was going through your mind when you did this? Why'd you do it?
For me, my week has been around 'good people make mistakes'. I've made a big mistake by allowing this to happen. It was a huge error of judgement on my behalf, and I'm deeply sorry.
James Sutherland said this was an isolated incident, can you say hand on heart, that under your captaincy no member of the Australian team, to your knowledge, has ever previously tampered with the ball before Cape Town?
To my knowledge this has never happened before. This is the first time I've seen this happen, and I can assure you it'll never be happening again.
Steve what's your relationship at the moment with David Warner, and do you blame him for this?
No, I don't blame anyone. As I said, I'm the captain of the Australian team. It's on my watch, I take responsibility for the actions of what happened last Saturday in Cape Town.
Steve, I've got three sons of my own who play cricket and they absolutely cherish you, what do you have to say to the kids?
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 are, 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... [breaks down] ... and my mum, 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.
First of all I'd like to thank you all for coming this morning. To the fans and the lovers of the game who have supported and inspired me on my journey as a cricketer, I want to sincerely apologise for betraying your trust in me. I have let you down badly. I hope in time I can find a way to repay you for all you've given me and possibly earn your respect again.
To my teammates and support staff, I apologise for my actions and I take full responsibility for my part in what happened on day three of the Newlands Test. To Cricket Australia, I apologise for my actions and the effect it has had on our game under your care and control. I want you to know that I fully support your review into the culture of the Australian cricket team. To South African players, administration and fans, I apologise unreservedly for my part in this and I am sorry. I brought the game into disrepute on your soil. South Africa is a fine cricketing nation and deserves better from its guests and deserves better from me.
To all Australians, whether you're a cricket fan or not, I apologise for my actions. I'm sorry for the impact those actions have had on our country's reputation. I can honestly say I have only ever wanted to bring glory to my country by playing cricket. In striving to do so, I have made a decision which has had an opposite effect and it's one that I'll regret for as long as I'll live. I do realise that I'm responsible for my own actions and the consequences that that brings. It's heartbreaking to know that I won't be taking to the field with my teammates that I love and have let down. Right now it is hard to know what comes next but first and foremost, is the wellbeing of my family.
In the back of my mind, I suppose there is a tiny ray of hope that I may one day be given the privilege of playing for my country again but I'm resigned to the fact that that may never happen again. In the coming weeks and months, I'm going to look at how this has happened and who I am as a man. I will seek out advice and expertise to help me make serious changes. I want to apologise to my family. To my wife and daughters. Your love means more than anything to me, I know I would not be anything without you. I'm very sorry for putting you through this and I promise I'll never put you through this again.
Before I take questions, I want to again say thankyou, I take full responsibility for my part in what happened and I am deeply sorry for the consequences of what I was involved in. I failed in my responsibilities as vice-captain of the Australian cricket team.
I will now answer your questions.
David, the cruel treatment of Candice earlier in the tour … how much did that affect your decision to cheat on that day?
It's tough for me to talk about where my thought space was on that day, given the circumstances that happened in Durban. But I'm here to take full responsibility of my actions of the part that I played in, that happened on day three in Newlands, in Cape Town. I'm extremely sorry and I really, really regret that. It's going to be a decision that sticks with me for the rest of my life.
You, Bancroft and Smith were involved. Can you hand on your heart say no other players or coaches knew about your plot?
I'm here today to accept my responsibility for my part, my involvement for what happened in Cape Town. It's inexcusable. I'm deeply sorry. As I said, I'll do everything I can to earn that respect back from the Australian public.
Did you orchestrate this scandal? Was it your idea?
As I said, I'm here to take full responsibility for the part that I played in this. It's extremely regrettable, I'm very sorry. I really just want to move on from this.
David do you think you or the other players are perhaps surprised by how badly the public has taken this?
I'm not surprised at all. We let our country down. We made a bad decision. I played my part in that, and as I said it's going to take a long time to earn that respect back from the Australian public. It's really hard to sit here today knowing and seeing my friends, my family, that are playing in South Africa at the moment in this fourth Test, which I wish I was a part of.
Has your relationship been ruined with the Australian cricket team? It appears you were on your own when this crisis broke out.
The Australian cricket team are my family. I really regret what happened on that day three. As I said, I just really wish I could be there today on that field with them. That's one thing I'm really going to miss this next 12 months.
Did you realise how serious the crime was at the time?
We know what the consequences are when you make horrible decisions like this. As I said, I'm extremely sorry for my part and my role that I played in this. And I really wish, and hope, that Steve and Cameron have the same support that I have with me, because it's going to be a tough and emotional time these next 12 months.
Dave, are you considering retirement?
That's something that I'll continue to sit down with my family and weigh up all my considerations before I make any decisions.
Can you hand on heart say you've never done this before?
As I said before, I'm here to accept my responsibility for my part that I played in day three, Newlands, Cape Town Test.
What's your relationship like with Steve, Cameron, Mitchell Starc? Do you think any damage can be repaired?
We're mates. We've grown up with each other. We've played on the field for a long time with each other. It's going to be really tough not being able to partake in the next 12 months, not just with the rest of the team but with Steve and Cameron, because we made a decision that was inexcusable and extremely regrettable.
Do you feel as though you're being made a scapegoat? You're holding back with some of your answers.
As I said before, I'm here to speak about myself, and take responsibility for the part I played in this. Thank you.