Australia recall a far cry from reality

Australian cricketer David Warner crying during a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday. He has taken full responsibility for his role in a ball-tampering scandal but is also weighing up an appeal against his 12-month ban.
Australian cricketer David Warner crying during a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday. He has taken full responsibility for his role in a ball-tampering scandal but is also weighing up an appeal against his 12-month ban.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Warner feels he may never play for his nation again after his ball-tampering scandal and ban

SYDNEY • A distraught David Warner issued an abject apology for his role in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal yesterday 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 31-year-old 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," Warner said as he faced the media at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the first time since being stripped of the Australian cricket team's vice-captaincy. "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."

His appearance comes after similar heartfelt apologies from opening batsman Cameron Bancroft and captain Steve Smith, who broke down when he faced the media on Thursday. Coach Darren Lehmann, convinced to step down after seeing the anguished statements from the duo, was also tearful as he announced his resignation.

Smith and Warner were banned from international and domestic cricket for a year and Bancroft was suspended for nine months after the incident during the third Test in Cape Town. Bancroft was caught on camera trying to use yellow sandpaper to alter the ball, an offence which triggered criticism from home and abroad against the hard-nosed Australian team.

Warner, a divisive figure in the game, has appeared isolated after he was charged by Cricket Australia (CA) with developing the plot and telling Bancroft to carry it out.

He said: "I can honestly say I have only wanted to bring glory to my country through playing cricket.

"In striving to do so I have made the decision which has had the opposite effect and it's one that I will regret for as long as I live."

There were six apologies and three sorries in his opening statement alone. But he also evaded questions about whether the ball-tampering plot was his idea, whether it was the first time, who else was aware of it and whether he had been made a scapegoat.

He would also not be drawn on the state of his reportedly soured relationship with CA and his team-mates, and offered no new details about his state of mind at the time.

He was asked whether the earlier sledging of his wife, which prompted its own controversy, had played a role.

"It's tough for me to talk about where my thought space was on that day, given the circumstances of what happened in Durban," he said. "But I am to here to take full responsibility for my actions."

His wife Candice was also crying as she watched from the media seats.

Warner later took to social media to say: "I know there are unanswered questions and lots of them. I completely understand. In time I will do my best to answer them all. But there is a formal CA process to follow."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'Australia recall a far cry from reality'. Print Edition | Subscribe