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Ball tampering: 2 days after Smith, Warner to face public

March 30, 2018

Disgraced Australian Cricket Vice Captain David Warner, second right, arrives with his wife Candice, second left, and their children at Sydney Airport, Thursday, March 29, 2018, after being sent home from South Africa. Warner has been stood down as Australian vice captain and suspended for 12 months following his involvement in a ball tampering incident which captain Steve Smith and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were also suspended for 12 months and 9 months respectively. (Brendan Esposito/AAP Image via AP)

SYDNEY (AP) — David Warner is expected to address the ball-tampering scandal publicly for the first time since being accused of leading the Australian cricket team in developing the plan.

The dumped vice-captain has scheduled a news conference for Saturday morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground, marking the first time he will take questions from the media since he was alleged to have instructed Cameron Bancroft to tamper with the ball in the third cricket test last weekend in South Africa.

Warner, who has been suspended by Cricket Australia for 12 months, landed back in Australia on Thursday night. The New South Wales state cricket association announced plans for Warner’s news conference on Friday.

While a contrite Bancroft (banned for nine months) and tearful Steve Smith (a 12-month ban) each faced news conferences soon after their arrivals, Warner instead made a brief statement after his late-night flight before leaving Sydney airport with his wife Candice and two daughters.

“At the moment, my priority is to get these kids in bed and rest up and let my mind be clear so I can think and talk to you in a couple of days,” Warner said.

It came after he’d earlier posted a written statement via social media, accepting responsibility and apologizing for his part in the scandal which has rocket Australian and world cricket.

“I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans,” he wrote.

Warner has been accused of developing the plan to use sandpaper to scuff the ball on the third day of the Cape Town test against South Africa. Cricket Australia investigators also alleged he advised Bancroft on the process and failed to voluntarily report of his knowledge of the plan after the match.

Warner has been banned by Cricket Australia from ever holding a leadership position. Whether he appeals those penalties or refutes the facts could be among the topics of his media appearance on Saturday.

When asked at their news conferences, Bancroft and Smith each refused to place blame on Warner and denied any knowledge of previous tampering attempts.

“I don’t blame anyone. I’m the captain of the Australian team,” Smith said, breaking down several times as he spoke. “It’s on my watch and I take responsibility for the action of what happened last Saturday in Cape Town.”

The heart-felt comments from Bancroft and Smith garnered plenty of sympathy from the Australian public, and a few former England players chipped in with their support as well on social media.

“As a parent, I’m gutted for him and his family!” Kevin Pietersen wrote on Twitter after Smith’s appearance. “Shout me down if you want, but I’m speaking as a parent! It will get better mate!”

Former Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan, a vocal critic during the week, tweeted “good people make mistakes.”

“I honestly think Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft are decent guys who had a moment of madness ... they deserve a 2nd chance and hopefully get the right support around them now ... Takes a lot guts to do what they did today.”

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