A tearful Steve Smith on Thursday took full responsibility for the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa that has left his reputation in tatters, saying he is absolutely gutted right now and would regret the incident for the rest of his life.
The 28-year-old, who has been banned for a year by Cricket Australia and stripped of captaincy, broke down repeatedly in a five-minute press conference after his arrival from South Africa today.
"As captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgement and now I understand the consequences. It was a failure of my leadership," a devastated Smith said, trying hard to keep his composure in a packed press conference.
"I will do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it has caused. If any good can come through this, if there can be a lesson to others, I hope I can be a force for change. I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I am absolutely gutted," he added.
Smith, along with his deputy David Warner, were handed similar bans for their role in plotting the episode during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Opener Cameron Bancroft, who was entrusted with the task of tampering the ball with a sand paper before he was caught on camera, has been handed a nine-month suspension.
"I hope in time, I can earn back respect and forgiveness. I have been so privileged and honoured to captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It has been my life and I hope it can be again. I am sorry and absolutely devastated," he said.
Smith refused to blame any of the other players involved, saying he can only blame himself at the moment.
"Good people make mistakes. I have made a big mistake by allowing this to happen. It was a huge error of judgement on my part and I am sorry. To my knowledge this is the first time I have seen this happened. I can assure you it will never be happening again," he said.
"I don't blame anyone. I am the captain of the Australian team, I take responsibility of what happened last Saturday in Cape Town," he added.
Before being escorted out, Smith hoped that his fate serves as a warning to anybody trying to attempt any wrongdoing.
"... (when) you think about making a questionable decision you should think about people who will be affected. You are affecting your parents and to see my old man's pain (breaks down)," he said.
"(To see) My mum it hurts. I can't remember what I was saying. I just want to say sorry for the pain I have caused to the Australian public. I am truly sorry," he concluded fighting back sobs.
Video: Kind courtesy, cricket.com.au/Twitter