Disgraced former Australian captain Steve Smith has admitted to reporters that he could have prevented the ball-tampering scandal at Newlands from happening … but that he failed as a leader at that moment.
‘For me in the room, I walked past something and had the opportunity to stop it and I didn’t do it,’ said Smith. ‘That was my leadership failure. Something happened out on the field and I had the opportunity to stop it at that point, rather than say I don’t want to know anything about it. That was my failure and I’ve taken responsibility for that.’
Speaking at the first press conference he has given in Australia since Sandpapergate, a somewhat upbeat Smith took pains to stress that the incident was the first experience of ball-tampering he had seen in an Australian dressing room. He also confirmed to reporters that his relationship with David Warner remains ‘fine’, despite accusations that Warner had thrown his captain ‘under the bus’ during the scandal that broke out after Cameron Bancroft was called over by the umpires on the field of play and asked to reveal what he had been hiding in his pants.
Smith’s failure to be a strong leader in the dressing room undoubtedly enabled the entire scandal to erupt, and his admission that he turned the other cheek is a sad indictment on him as a cricketer, a captain and a man. No doubt the pressures on the field of play and the tensions that had arisen between the teams played a major role in Smith failing to do his duty for his country as well as the sport. However, it was a sorry admission that the captain of a proud cricketing nation could turn the other cheek after he had spotted some of his players discussing an unlawful cricketing activity.
‘I don’t want to know about it,’ Smith admitted he had said to his players when he spotted them ‘plotting’ or ‘planning’ (he did not specify) how to use and hide sandpaper in the safety of their Newlands dressing room, before walking away from the players in question. ‘That was my chance where I could have stopped something from happening.’
Smith has recently slipped back into the spotlight following the release of an advert for Vodafone, followed by his press conference.
‘I’m going okay now. Initially, after South Africa, I was going through a bit, in a pretty dark space and had some tough days, but they are few and far between now. Still have my moments, ups and downs, but I’m going okay and heading in the right direction.
‘I’ve had tough days, but I’ve been really fortunate to have a close group of people around me who have helped me. There have been some dark days where I haven’t wanted to get out of the bed. A close group of people let me know it’s okay. I made a mistake, quite a big mistake, now I’m trying to move and improve as a person.’
Smith and Warner have been serving a one-year ban, while Bancroft’s ban will end on 29 December. It is anticipated that Bancroft will be drafted straight into the Perth Scorchers side for the Big Bash League.
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