The ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town was one of the darkest chapters in the history of Australian cricket. During the Test, Cameron Bancroft was caught trying to use yellow sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball and he was caught by the cameras present in the ground. After being caught, Bancroft, the-then skipper Steve Smith and David Warner admitted to trying to tamper with the condition of the ball. Both Smith and Warner were banned for one year by Cricket Australia for their involvement while Bancroft was banned for nine months. When Smith and Warner returned to Australia, they gave tearful press conferences and admitted to their roles.
Almost nine months after the scandal, Smith, who has been playing club cricket in Australia and has also participated in several Twenty20 leagues, opened up about the scandal and admitted he had failed as a leader. “Something happened out on the field and I had the opportunity to stop it at that point rather than say I don't want to know anything about it, that was my failure and I've taken responsibility for that,” Smith said.
Smith admitted that watching the Australian team struggle after he was banned was the hardest thing he had faced. After losing the Newlands Test, Australia were thrashed by 492 runs in Johannesburg to lose the series 1-3. They were whitewashed 0-5 in England and lost the Tests and T20Is to Pakistan. They lost the ODIs and T20I to South Africa to continue their miserable run. After losing in Adelaide, Australia finally bounced back with a magnificent win in Perth. Smith credited Tim Paine’s leadership for handling the team in a tough situation.
“It’s been tough at times, particularly when the boys haven’t played their best in a couple of games, it’s been hard watching and knowing that I can’t go out and help them. But I was really proud of the way they played last week in Perth (during the second Test against India, which they won). I thought they were magnificent. I think Tim Paine’s leadership has been exceptional since taking over as captain. He’s obviously faced difficult circumstances to begin with, and he’s done a terrific job,” Smith said.
Recently, Smith featured in a commerical for Vodafone Australia where he was seen speaking about the controversy. In that advertisement, he mentioned he was in a 'dark space' but he pulled through. "I've had tough days, but I've been really fortunate to have a close group of people around me who have helped me. There have been some dark days where I haven't wanted to get out of the bed. A close group of people let me know it's okay. I made a mistake, quite a big mistake, now I'm trying to move and improve as a person."
The right-hander, who had scored plenty of runs in the last 3-4 seasons, is waiting for his ban to end. Smith and Warner’s ban could end by March 2019 and they could play the ODI series against Pakistan. Smith, who was expected to play for the Comilla Victorians in the Bangladesh Premier League, has been banned from playing in the league after some franchisees raised objections. Instead, he will now play in the Pakistan Super League.
“I’m just moving forward day to day, and doing what I need to do to prepare to hopefully get another opportunity to play for Australia. And if that’s World Cup and Ashes, so be it. And no doubt the English crowd will be incredibly hostile. I’m ready for that, if that happens,” Smith added.