Former Australian skipper Steve Smith has opened up on the struggles he faced following the ball-tampering saga that rocked Australian cricket earlier this year.
In addition to breaking down in front of media during an emotional apology to friends, family and fans following the cheating scandal, the 29-year-old told students at a Sydney school he cried for days behind closed doors.
In audio obtained by Seven News, the cricketer addressed students at Sydney’s Knox Grammar School. The athlete was mobbed by children as he made his way to the school grounds, before opening up on his darkest days.
“To be honest, I probably spent four days in tears,” he told students. “I was really struggling mentally.”
Smith said addressing the media after being caught cheating was one of the toughest moments of his life.
“It certainly was the toughest thing that I’ve had to do,” he said.
Still, he said he started to feel better after an FM radio prankster opted to ask him questions about reality show Married at First Sight during the media conference.
“It sort of shifted the room,” Smith continued. “After someone asked that question, it was almost like the media felt a little bit sorry for me. That’s when I started to feel a little bit better about myself.
Smith’s appearance at the school was part of a campaign that raises awareness for men’s mental health. And, while the former Australian cricket captain was handed a one-year ban for his involvement in the scandal, it doesn’t look like he will be out of action for long.
Former Aus Cricket Captain @stevesmith49 and Triple M presenter @GusWorland were special guests at assembly today.Steve spoke about mental health, making mistakes and the importance of building a network of friends and family @gotcha4_life #australiacricket #cricket #stevesmith pic.twitter.com/BiNpKKqxK8
— Knox Grammar School (@knoxgrammar) June 4, 2018
According to the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, Smith has been confirmed to play for Sutherland in the Sydney grade competition during the 2018/19 season. While he won’t be allowed to play at a domestic or international level for a year, he is allowed to play grade cricket and is required to complete 100 hours of voluntary service in community cricket.
In addition to returning to the pitch, the former captain could also become a cricket commentator for the upcoming cricket season.
Reports earlier this year by Wide World of Sports said Smith was reportedly in line to join Channel Seven’s new commentary line up after the network, in partnership with Foxtel, won the broadcasting to the rights to the cricket earlier this year, ending the Nine Network’s 40-year involvement with the game.
Wide World of Sports reported Smith was likely to “undertake roles in the commentary box and offer his opinion on magazine shows” — a role that will help him secure an income after he was dumped from sponsors for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Meanwhile, cricket legend Merv Hughes told Starts at 60 last week he was ready to forgive Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for cheating.
“I’m prepared to forgive and move on,” he said. “When they serve their penalties and they come back in the Australian side – which they no doubt will – I just hope the cricketing public and the general public in Australia accept them and understand they made a horrendous mistake, they’ve been punished for it, let’s move on.”