Cheating scandal too much for Smith’s dad
THE cheating scandal engulfing Steve Smith in South Africa is too much for his cricket-loving father to bear.
"I'm deliberately not reading about it or watching it on TV, as I don't want to know," Peter Smith said.
"Steve knows we're supporting him; he's our son, we're there for him no matter what."
Mr Smith's comments came as his son's teammates turned on Dave Warner, with reports emerging that the vice-captain had removed himself from the players' group on social media.
Many are viewing the withdrawal by Warner - who has been stood down alongside skipper Smith over the ball-tampering scandal - as a sign that he has gone rogue given his widening rift with the team's pace attack.
When the stony-faced cricket team emerged from Johannesburg Airport on Tuesday night (AEST), the "leadership group" was at the back of the pack.
Warner was the last player to emerge, before the bus took the team to their hotel where the probe into the saga was expected to begin.
Before the embattled team flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg for the investigation into the saga, it was reported that Warner further infuriated his teammates after he was photographed drinking champagne at the hotel bar.
Mr Smith, a chemist and a key figure in his son's rise to the pinnacle of the game as Australian captain, said he and his wife Gillian were travelling to South Africa to be by their embattled son's side but he was reluctant to be drawn on the furore.
"It's a very difficult time for the family, for all of us, not just Steve," he said from his home in Sydney.
"We're speaking to him on the phone every day. He's been calling us."
Mr Smith coached Steve until he was around 16, when the youngster's talent clearly showed he was headed for senior state cricket. He was then put in the hands of professional coaches, Mr Smith told cricket.com.au in 2014.
Ever since, the proud father has stayed involved, but in the background.
Steve Smith revealed before a South Africa tour in 2016 that his father had bowled some balls for him as part of his preparations. And Mr Smith helped launch his son's autobiography last year.
Apart from being stood down, Smith and Warner could face one-year bans from international cricket after the former's extraordinary admission about a cheating plot involving Cameron Bancroft.
Smith told a media conference on Saturday the Australian team's "leadership group" discussed breaking the rules during the third Test in Cape Town, after Bancroft was caught on camera tampering with the ball in the field.
Bancroft used sticky tape to gather grit from the ground, which was rubbed into one side of the ball in a bid to get it to swing after leaving the bowler's hand. Bancroft has been charged with ball tampering.
The Australian team went into lockdown in South Africa yesterday as outrage over the biggest scandal to hit cricket in years reverberated around the world of sport.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland flew to South Africa to launch an official investigation, as pressure grew for coach Darren Lehmann to quit or be sacked.
The team's coaching succession plan has been thrown into disarray. Lehmann had planned to stand down next year but the decision may now be out of his hands.
Cricket Australia was believed to be implementing a succession plan, with former Test opener Justin Langer heading the queue of likely applicants ready to take over. This could now be accelerated.
With the team in disarray, axed Test opener Matt Renshaw was recalled to the side and was last night set to fly to South Africa for the fourth Test starting on Friday.
As current officials and players stayed silent on the scandal, theories abounded about who knew what, and when.
One former teammate of Smith, NSW's Moises Henriques, said on Wednesday he doubted there was a leadership group meeting at which the tampering was discussed, and that Smith had come up with that line during "10 minutes of panic" before the after-match press conference.