Steve Smith, who was handed a one-year ban by Cricket Australia for being the mastermind of ball-tampering and tarnishing the image of the country, arrived in Sydney on a Singapore Airlines flight after being sent home in disgrace from South Africa on Thursday. The former Australia skipper apologised for his "serious error of judgement" in a tearful press conference at Sydney Airport and struck a chord with the cricketing fraternity and fans alike. Indian opening batsman Rohit Sharma took to Twitter and in a heartfelt post expressed sympathy towards the 28-year-old tainted cricketer.
The Mumbai Indians skipper wrote that although Smith made a huge mistake, it should not define him and the ridicule that he was being subjected to was difficult to fathom.
"Tonight I want to make clear that as captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility," Smith said.
"It was a failure of leadership - my leadership. I'll do everything I can to make up for my mistake."
A clearly devastated Smith broke down on several occasions as he spoke, saying it was a privilege and honour to represent his country.
"Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It's been my life and I hope it will be again," he said.
In what is being termed as the most shameful chapter in Australian cricket, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera, using yellow sticky tape laden with dirt to alter the condition of the ball. Then, in the most stunning revelation, Smith and Bancroft admitted to cheating in an explosive press conference.
Smith, David Warner and Bancroft have been barred from representing Australia, their states and Big Bash League franchises during the bans, but will be encouraged to play grade cricket.