Steve Smith has shed further light on the role former Cricket Australia executives James Sutherland and Pat Howard played in establishing a toxic culture of winning without counting the costs.
Smith was stripped of the captaincy and issued a year-long suspension by CA for his role in the Cape Town cheating saga, having stumbled across an illegal ploy to alter the ball in the Newlands dressing room before walking away and taking no action.
Team-performance boss Howard was one half of CA’s investigation team that grilled Smith and other players in the aftermath of the sandpaper scandal.
Howard and CA’s former integrity chief Iain Roy found that David Warner was the architect of the illegal ploy, and that nobody outside Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft knew of the one-off plan to alter the ball with sandpaper.
Roy left the governing body soon after returning home from South Africa, while Howard was sacked last month after an independent review painted an ugly picture of the high-performance environment he fostered.
The Ethics Centre highlighted a culture of “winning without counting the costs” in a scathing assessment of the environment that led to Smith, Warner and Bancroft’s life-changing mistakes.
Smith, speaking in a Fox Sports interview that went to air on Boxing Day, detailed the pressure that Howard and former chief executive Sutherland put players under in 2016 after a horrible Test loss to South Africa in Hobart.
“I remember James Sutherland and Pat Howard coming into the rooms there and saying ‘we don’t pay you to play, we pay you to win’,” Smith said.
“For me that was a little bit disappointing.
“We don’t go out there to try to lose games of cricket, we go out there to try and win and play the best way we can.”
Smith also touched on the “dark space” he was in after ball-tampering furore.
“The first week or so after everything went down in South Africa, that was really tough,” he said.
“I was pretty much curled up in a ball and in tears for a lot of it. I was struggling mentally.”
Smith still has a further three months of his year-long ban to serve, with the gifted batsman likely to return during Australia’s ODI series against Pakistan that is due to start in late March.
The terms of CA’s punishment dictate that Smith is unable to hold a leadership position for a further year after his 12-month playing suspension ends.
Ricky Ponting, speaking during Seven’s Boxing Day coverage, backed Smith to return as skipper whenever Tim Paine retires.
National coach Justin Langer said on Christmas Eve that he “cant’ wait” to have Smith back.
“He’s in a very determined place … that makes me feel warm and fuzzy,” Langer said.