Qantas Tour of South Africa
Transcripts: Smith, Bancroft, Warner, Lehmann
Copies of interviews of the suspended Australian trio, who spoke with the media this evening upon touching down in their home cities, and Darren Lehmann who resigned as coach
29 March 2018, 09:02 PM AEST
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.
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.
*At Sydney Airport in Australia
As you can understand, it has been a tough, emotional time for my wife and kids. At the present time, you'll hear from me in a couple of days. At the moment, my priority is to get these kids in bed, and rest up and get my mind a bit clear so I can think, and talk in a couple of days. Thanks guys.
*On social media en route to Australia
To cricket fans in Australia and all over the world: I am currently on my way back to Sydney. 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. I need to take a deep breath and spend time with my family, friends and trusted advisors. You will hear from me in a few days.
Thanks for joining me everyone. I just wanted to let you know that this will be by my last Test as head coach of the Australian cricket team as I’m stepping down. After seeing events in the media today with Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, the feeling is that Australian cricket needs to move forward and this is the right thing to do. I really felt for Steve, as I saw him crying in front of the media, and all the players are really hurting. As I stated before I had no prior knowledge of the incident and do not condone what happened at all. But good people can make mistakes. My family and I have copped a lot of abuse over the last week and it’s taken its toll on them. As many who sit in this room will know life on the road means a long time away from our loved ones and after speaking with my family at length over the last few days it’s the right time to step away. I’m ultimately responsible for the culture of the team and I’ve been thinking about my position for a while. Despite telling media yesterday that I’m not resigning, after viewing Steve and Cameron's hurting it’s only fair that I make this decision. This will allow Cricket Australia to complete a full review into the culture of the team and allow them to implement changes to regain the trust of the Australian public. This is the right thing for Australian cricket. Like all Australians we are extremely disappointed and as a team we know we’ve let so many people down, and for that we are truly sorry. The players involved have been handed down very serious sanctions and they know they must face the consequences. They have made a grave mistake but they are not bad people. I would like to thank my beautiful wife Andrea, my four children and close friends for allowing me to do this job and supporting me 100 per cent every step of the way. I would also like to thank all the players and support staff who have been fantastic in my five years in the role. We’ve had a lot of highs along the way and played some really exciting cricket. It’s been a wonderful experience coaching the Australian cricket team. I hope the team rebuilds from this and the Australian public find it in their hearts to forgive these young men and get behind the XI that are going to take the field tomorrow.
How do you go about this? What is the mood in the changeroom? What are you saying to your team?
I thought this (speaking to the media) was tough but speaking to the players and saying goodbye, telling them the news… that was the toughest thing I've ever had to do. It's about fronting up for your country and playing good cricket over the next five days. It's been an unbelievable series obviously marred by some incidents but it's great playing South Africa. Two rival countries who play the game of cricket really hard and it's been an exciting Test series. So our challenge is to get back and level the series. That'll be a big challenge, there's no doubt about that, but the boys will be doing everything they possible can to play and make people proud of them.
What happened with Steve speaking this morning, was it really that that brought it home - everyone knows how serious this has been but is that what brought it home?
It's been happening for a few days and you think you can keep going but the amount of abuse or whatever word you want to use, it just takes its toll. Everyone has their views out there but they made a mistake and we need to get the game back on track. And speaking to my family, they've had enough of travelling 300 days a year and not being home at all to see your family so that's the main reason, to spend some time with them and the kids, maybe watch my son play cricket, which'd be quite nice. Be there for my daughters and that.
Can I just clarify and confirm that this was entirely (your decision)?
Yes, yes. I've been speaking with the hierarchies the last couple of days and this morning, no sleep last night again. I think no-one's slept, that's the biggest challenge fronting up tomorrow. I don't think I've slept since Saturday to be perfectly honest, a couple of hours here and there. You play it out in your head, what's right and let the game move forward.
What are you most proud of in your whole careeer as coach?
I would say the way we dealt with Phillip Hughes. We're only playing a game. That's all we're playing. We lost a great young man and the way we tried to deal with that was my proudest moment as coach. You win games, you lose games. So for me that would be the most pleasing one.
Do you think it's been excessive, the reaction?
It's been unbelievable, mate. Watching the two young men who faced the media and I'm sure David (Warner) will be the same when the media are there. It's been unbelievable. I hope the game gets back to the game of cricket as a game to be loved and enjoyed. Shit, I've had a great time coaching in my career and coaching the Australian cricket team is a real high. So for me looking forward to having some time off and what's the next step from there. I'd love to stay involved in the game because I love it so much, so... yeah.
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test South Africa won by 322 runs. Scorecard
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage