Mitchell Starc has clarified his comments on Steve Smith with reference to the ball-tampering saga after he felt they were misconstrued, via a statement on his website on Saturday (June 9). The comments made at a function in Sydney on Friday (June 8) gave the impression of Starc criticising the banned duo of Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft for the press conference held on the third day of the third Test against South Africa when the latter was caught on cameras trying to alter the condition of the ball.
“Going back to what Sue (Cato, a public relations consultant) said before about being upfront and tackling a problem head on, that’s something the group who decided to go into a press conference didn’t really think about,” Starc was reported as saying on Friday. “They obviously didn’t see how big the reaction was going to be at that time and then went down the path of not telling the whole truth and then I guess involving another group, which ruined – well, not ruined – but affected other reputations,” said Starc, referring to the comments made by Smith of the leadership group having had been privy of the plan.
Eventually, Smith and David Warner were handed 12-month bans, while Bancroft was suspended for 9 months.
Starc, however, clarified that his comments at the forum were in the context of a particular topic, “as it related to being honest and authentic in delivering a message”. “This context has unfortunately been lost in certain media reporting and headlines in recent days,” he said.
“Despite reports to the contrary, I continue to have utmost respect for Steve Smith as captain, teammate and friend and I look forward to having him back in our great game soon,” Starc wrote on his website. “That goes for David and Cameron who have also been through an extremely tough time. It is good to see all three guys planning to be back in cricket soon in different competitions around the world.
“Rebuilding trust and developing a positive reputation will take time and through our actions, we hope to demonstrate this to cricket fans everywhere. The process has already started and the focus now should be on the cricket being played and the stories of performance and change in the current series, led by new Aussie coach Justin Langer, captain Tim Paine and the current team over in the UK.”
Amidst growing reports of friction amongst the senior group of players in the team, Starc insisted that while it was a tough phase for the team, the relationships amongst the players were intact. “It was such a stressful time in our lives. There was strain on relationships both as individuals and as a team. However, the relationships of that group remain very much intact. I look forward to the opportunity to play alongside every one of my team mates from that tour again.
“We still have a long way to go in rebuilding the trust with the Australian public and I know personally, that I am 100 per cent committed to doing that.”
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