Warner breaks silence in apology
DAVID Warner has finally addressed the ball tampering scandal in a message directed to his supporters around the world.
The 31-year-old dumped vice-captain confirmed he would land back in Australia on Thursday night.
Warner was sensationally identified as the central figure in the ball-tampering fiasco in the findings of Cricket Australia's investigation into the Cape Town cheating saga.
He has been sent home, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 100 hours of community service in Aussie grassroots cricket and been told he will never be considered for a leadership position in the Aussie cricket team.
In his message to fans, Warner accepted responsibility for his role in the Aussie cricket team's attempt to tamper with the ball using sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.
He also apologised for his actions.
However, he also suggested the fault is not all his to carry.
"To cricket fans in Australia and all over the world: I am currently on my way back to Sydney," Warner wrote in his message on Twitter.
"Mistakes have been made which have damaged cricket. I apologise for my part and take responsibility for it.
"I understand the distress this has caused the sport and its fans.
"It's a stain on the game we all love and have loved since I was a boy.
"I need to take a deep breath and spend time with my family, friends and trusted advisers. You will hear from me in a few days."
Warner's banned teammates Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith will front the Aussie media when they arrive back in Australia on Thursday - but Warner has dodged that official responsibility.
It comes as cricket commentators around the world speak out in support of Warner, despite his portrayal in some circles as the villain of Aussie cricket.
New Zealand cricket captain Kane Williamson went in to bat for the embattled Aussie, saying he was "not a bad person".
Williamson and the NZ team was obliquely drawn into the controversy this week when Australia coach Darren Lehmann, exonerated of any part in planning or attempting to change the condition of the ball during the third Test against South Africa, said Australia in future should behave more like NZ.
The NZ team under coach Mike Hesson and recent captains Brendon McCullum and Williamson has been lauded for upholding the spirit of cricket by refusing to indulge in abuse of opposing players or other forms of gamesmanship.
"The thing for me would be if we take a leaf out of someone like, say, New Zealand's book in the way they play and respect the opposition," Lehmann said, promising the Australian team would mend its ways.
"We've got to make sure we're respecting the game and its traditions."
At a news conference on Thursday ahead of Friday's second cricket Test against England in Christchurch, Williamson was asked for his view of the ball-tampering controversy, with Warner and Australia captain Steve Smith banned for 12 months and Cameron Bancroft for nine months.
Williamson might have welcomed the chance to join many other leading current or former players in piling on to the pugnacious Warner.
Instead he expressed sympathy and understanding for Warner and Smith who, he said, were paying heavily for a single lapse in judgment.
Williamson said he had been in touch by text with Warner, with whom he plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.
"He's not a bad person by any means," Williamson said.
"Through what's eventuated in recent times, there's been a lot of emotion and energy pointed at certain players, which has gone to extreme lengths.
"It will blow over in time, but it's grown and grown and, like I say, he's not a bad guy. He's made a mistake and certainly admitted that and they are disappointed with that action."
Williamson said Warner and Smith would "have to take the strong punishment and move on".
"You always learn from tough lessons and I'm sure they'll do that. But it is a shame that two fantastic world-class players have made a mistake," he said.
Williamson acknowledged NZ had made a conscious effort in recent years to play in a way that demonstrated respect for opponents and the sport.
"For us it's about how we want to play the game, that's important to us," he said.
"It's been part of our environment for some time and we want to maintain that.
"We believe it suits us as people and so we want to commit to that, play as hard and well as we can on the park, but at the end of the day the game finishes and you're still people. That's what we like to try and hang our hat on."