Steve Smith, the deposed captain of the Australian team, says he takes full responsibility for what happened under his watch and blames no one but himself.
‘I don’t blame anyone. I’m the captain of the Australian team. It’s on my watch and I take responsibility for what happened last Saturday.
‘There 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.’
Smith and David Warner, the architects of the plan to tamper with the ball during the third Test in Cape Town, have been banned from all international and domestic cricket in Australia. They have also lost their IPL contracts.
Cameron Bancroft, the junior player tasked with carrying out the offence, was banned for nine months.
Smith, visibly distraught and struggling to hold back the tears in the press conference at Sydney airport, added: ‘If any good can come of this, if there can be a lesson to others, then I hope I can be a force for change.
‘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. I will do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it has caused. I’m deeply sorry.
‘I am gutted. I love the game of cricket. I love entertaining young kids … I just want to say sorry for the pain I’ve brought to Australia, to the fans and the public.
‘If there is a lesson in this … anytime you make a questionable decision think about those you are affecting. Especially your parents … to see the way it’s affected my old man …’
At that point, Smith broke down and was taken from the room.
Earlier, Bancroft also fronted up to the cameras in Perth, saying he felt like he ‘had let everyone in Australia down’.
He admitted he ‘lied and panicked’ on that fateful day in Cape Town, acknowledging he will now live a lifetime of regret.
‘Not a second has gone by when I haven’t wished to turn back time. It is something I will regret for the rest of my life.
‘It is going to be a really long road, particularly for me to earn that respect back but that is the most important thing,’ he said. ‘All I can do in the short term is ask for forgiveness, I hope you can allow it in your hearts to allow me to progress on that journey.’
Photo: David Moir/EPA/BackpagePix