Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft both repeated their apologies for their part in the Australia ball-tampering scandal as cricket’s international governing body announced a wide-ranging review into the behaviour of players.
Smith and Bancroft fought back tears as they faced the media, with former captain Smith in Sydney and Bancroft in Perth.
David Warner, the third cricketer banned for the ball-tampering plot which he devised, only took to Twitter to admit his plan was a “stain on the game”.
Bancroft was caught on TV cameras rubbing the ball with sandpaper during the Cape Town Test against South Africa at the weekend. It quickly emerged the conspiracy was Warner’s idea and involved the “leadership group” that included Smith and Bancroft.
Smith and Warner have been banned from international and domestic cricket for 12 months, while Bancroft was hit with a nine-month suspension for his role by Cricket Australia.
The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson said the review has been launched following “one of the worst periods in recent memory for consistently poor player behaviour and the global outcry in relation to the ball tampering is a clear message to cricket: enough is enough”.
It will bring together former and current players, match officials and the MCC to look at the current offences in the Code of Conduct and the sanctions available.
Meanwhile, Smith said he took “full responsibility” for a “serious error of judgement”.
“It was a serious failure of my leadership. I’ll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it’s caused,” the 28-year-old said.
“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.”
Smith was adamant that the Cape Town incident was the first time Australia had ball-tampered during his tenure.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this happen and I can assure you it will never happen again,” he said.
“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 in Cape Town last Saturday.
“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 Australia. Cricket is the greatest game in the world and it’s been my life – I hope it can be again. I’m absolutely devastated.”
Smith choked up as he tried to explain what message he would send to children that follow cricket and then broke down again as he tried to put into words the impact his actions had had on his parents.
He concluded his press conference by saying: “I just want to say I’m sorry for the pain that I guess I’ve brought to Australia and the fans and the public. It’s devastating and I’m truly sorry.”
Bancroft admitted he felt like he had “let everyone down in Australia”.
“People know that I’ve worked so hard to get this opportunity in my career and I’ve given someone else an opportunity for free. I’m going to work so hard to get back this dream I’ve had since I was a kid of playing for Australia,” he said.
“I have never ever been involved in tampering with the ball and it completely compromises my values and what I stand for as a player and a person.
“For Australian cricket it’s not acceptable.
“That’s also a big learning curve for me that 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. I’m sorry for what’s entailed since then.”
Warner opted to make his apology in a brief post on Twitter, saying: “Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket.
“I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it.
“I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans.
“It’s a stain on the game we all love and I have loved since I was a boy.”
The fallout from the scandal continues, with wealth management company Magellan pulling out of a sponsorship deal with Cricket Australia, while Smith has lost his endorsement deal with Australian breakfast cereal Weet-Bix and sports equipment manufacturer Asics announced it had terminated sponsorship contracts with Warner and Bancroft.
Warner and Smith have also been banned from taking part in this year’s Indian Premier League.
All three players sent home from South Africa will be permitted to play club cricket to maintain links with the cricket community.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) has said there were a number of “glaring and clear anomalies” in the process leading up to the bans for Smith, Warner and Bancroft.