Steve Smith is on the path to redemption. Picture: AFP
Steve Smith is on the path to redemption. Picture: AFP

Smith breaks silence in return from exile

STEVE Smith has vowed to earn back the trust of the Australian public following the cheating scandal in South Africa that resulted in him being banned from playing international and state cricket for a year.

Former national team captain Smith and vice-captain David Warner were both suspended for 12 months for their role in the ball tampering incident in Cape Town during the recent Test series, and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft copped nine months.

An emotional Smith was reduced to tears when he fronted the media to explain himself after arriving back in Australia in March and had not spoken publicly since then until Friday, when he posted a message on Instagram.

Smith had spent time in the US avoiding the spotlight, but announced he was back in Australia.

Pictured with fiancee Dani Willis, Smith said he was humbled by the messages of support he had received since being cast into the cricket wilderness and said it was "time to get back into it".

He also thanked Willis and his parents for their support after admitting he needed to earn the respect of the public again.


"It's great to be back home in Australia. I have had some time away to come to terms with everything and now it's time to get back into it," Smith wrote.

"The amount of emails and letters I have received has been incredible and I have been extremely humbled by the enormous amount of support you have given me. I now have a lot to do to earn back your trust.

"To my Mum, Dad and Dani you have been my rock through this and I can't thank you enough. Family is the most important thing in the world and I thank you for your love and support."

Coach Darren Lehmann stood down as a result of the cheating scandal and this week Cricket Australia announced Justin Langer would take his place at the helm for all three formats.

The former opening batsman and Western Australia coach left the door open for the return of Smith, Warner and Bancroft when their bans ended.

"They've made mistakes. We have all made mistakes and we can all get better," Langer said. "If they meet the standards of the Australian cricket team, of course, they will be welcomed back."

Smith has been linked with a move to English county side Surrey, where ex-Australian star and batting coach Michael Di Venuto is in charge, but that is yet to be confirmed.

Smith and Warner face a long road back.
Smith and Warner face a long road back.

Warner said he was resigned to accepting he might never play cricket for his country again, but Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said this week that the door remained open for the left-hander, who was identified as the mastermind behind the plan to use sandpaper to tamper with the ball.

"I think everyone deserves their chance and their own personal redemption story is very much in their own hands now," Sutherland told Melbourne radio station SEN.

"Each of them have to go about that during the time they're out of the game and prove that they're worthy (and) prove to the Australian selectors that they should want them back.

"They deserve that opportunity."

Sutherland added that he felt for the players, whose reputations had been trashed.

"I feel forgiveness for all of them. I feel sympathy for them and I want to see them all come back and play their best cricket. I believe they all can," he said.

"Part of the design within the sanctions was to allow them to stay connected with the game.

"I also see part of our role is to support them with their state associations and their clubs, to help them stay hungry and come back and play their best cricket."

On Tuesday, Cricket Australia appointed an ethics guru to review the sport's culture in the wake of the scandal, to ensure there was never a repeat.

It will run in tandem with a separate probe announced last month into player behaviour.

- with AAP

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