Former Australian Test captain, Steve Smith, has revealed the emotional and mental toll following the ball-tampering scandal earlier this year.
In March 2018, the Australian team toured South Africa in a four-match test series. During the third day of the third test match, Australian opening batsman, Cameron Bancroft, was caught applying a foreign substance to the ball by television cameras. The substance was later revealed to be sandpaper.
The fallout from the scandal was immense, resulting in Steve Smith and David Warner being banned from international and domestic cricket for a period of 12 months. Smith is unable to be considered for a leadership position for a further 12 months after his ban has been lifted. Warner can never be considered for a leadership position again. Bancroft was banned for a period of 9 months, with his ban ending on the 29 December 2018.
Smith returned to Australia and subsequently broke down during his press conference, as he apologised for his actions. After months away from the public eye and scrutiny, Smith returned to premier grade cricket, representing Sutherland. He also played in a series of T20 competitions overseas, one of which was in Canada.
While Smith is still ineligible to play international or domestic cricket until 29 March 2019, he has featured in a Vodafone advertisement, discussing the emotional toll “sandpaper gate” had on his life and family.
In the short advertisement, he reflects on how be thought his legacy and dreams were in tatters after the ball-tampering scandal. While saying he was in a “pretty dark space” in the days following the event, Smith has vowed to return to international cricket a better player. He reflects on the importance of being honest with yourself and recognising that we all make mistakes.
While Australia recorded a gutsy win over India at the new Optus stadium in Perth, it is clear that there are still major flaws in Australia’s batting lineup. With no Australian batsman scoring a century in the first two tests of the four-test series, it is clear that the hole Smith, Warner and Bancroft left is yet to be filled.
Australian fans can only hope that the banned trio return to the international arena in form and ready to play.