A distraught David Warner issued an abject apology for his role in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal on Saturday and said he was resigned to the prospect of never playing cricket for Australia again after his 12-month ban.
In a fourth highly emotional media conference in three days involving the Australian cricket team, the former vice-captain struggled to fight back the tears as he read a prepared statement in which he said his actions had been “inexcusable”. “There’s a tiny ray of hope that I may one day be given the privilege of playing for my country again but I’m resigned to the fact that that may never happen again,” the ashen-faced 31-year-old told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground. “In the coming weeks and months I’m going to look at how this happened and who I am as a man. I will seek out advice and expertise to help me make serious changes.”
Former captain Steve Smith, who gave his own emotional media conference on Thursday, also received a year’s ban and batsman Cameron Bancroft was suspended for nine months for their part in last Saturday’s incident, which has rocked Australia. Coach Darren Lehmann was also reduced to tears when he announced on Thursday he would be stepping down after the South Africa series because of the scandal. Warner, who has already lost millions of dollars in contracts since the cheating was exposed, said retiring from cricket altogether was one of the options he would “weigh up” with his family.
With his wife Candice, also in tears, watching on in the auditorium, Warner said he had not been shocked by what former Australia bowler Shane Warne described as the “hysteria” surrounding the case. “We let our countries down,” he said. “We made a bad decision. I played my part in that. “It’s really hard to sit here today, knowing and seeing my friends, my family, that are playing in South Africa at the moment in this fourth test, which I wish that I was a part of.”
Warner was identified by a Cricket Australia investigation as the main instigator of the plan to scuff up the ball with sandpaper during the third test against South Africa last week. To any questions about his role in the ball-tampering, Warner answered with an obviously pre-crafted line about taking “full responsibility for the part I played in this”. With Smith apparently already on the road to redemption after his news conference, and Bancroft cast as the junior player led astray by his vice-captain, Warner was asked if he had been made a scapegoat for the affair.
A long pause followed as he looked up and appeared to consider his answer before he again responded with the rote line. “As I said before,” he said. “I’m here to speak about myself and take responsibility for the part that I played in this.”