Aussies sack captain over reported conduct

Photo Graeme Smith made his first high-profile departure from a highly respected position this week: the captain of the Australian cricket team. Mr. Smith was “unable to continue to discharge the duties of his…

Aussies sack captain over reported conduct

Photo

Graeme Smith made his first high-profile departure from a highly respected position this week: the captain of the Australian cricket team.

Mr. Smith was “unable to continue to discharge the duties of his office as national captain because of serious misconduct,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said in a statement on Friday, after several months of reports of inappropriate behavior.

Mr. Smith will now take over as a vice-captain and has been suspended from international cricket for a period of six months.

During the press conference on Friday, Mr. Sutherland apologized “to all who were adversely affected by the actions of someone in senior leadership with the Australian team.”

The statement read:

The Australian Cricketers’ Association was informed last night of the club’s decision to make Mr. Smith unavailable for this summer’s Test series in South Africa and subsequently they offered Mr. Smith assistance to address the personal issues that have caused this outcome. Despite our support for him during this whole process, after discussions with his agent, we have reached the conclusion that his presence in the team would be distracting and we therefore accept Cricket Australia’s decision to suspend him.

The statement said that Mr. Smith had also been suspended from all matches during the season for domestic cricket.

Mr. Smith, who retired from the South African cricket team in 2016 to “focus on personal issues,” had long been a controversial figure in Australian cricket. In 2013, he admitted that he had lied to the Australian media about injuries sustained during an away match.

In a telephone interview on Friday with The Guardian, Mr. Smith insisted that he had never abused any women. “I’ve been in the game of cricket for 21 years,” he said. “If I can’t be trusted to stand up to the Australian public and make sure these claims aren’t true, how can I try to do my job as a leader?”

The ABC News quoted Mr. Smith as saying that he had been confronting his “personal demons” and that he would continue to focus on his “fight with depression.”

“When this happened, I was very, very ashamed and very, very embarrassed,” he said. “I had just literally crashed out of my car and was trying to get to my house. I just thought, ‘What do I do now?’ I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next.”

Mr. Smith, who stood at 5 feet 7 inches, lost a significant amount of weight during the time he was recovering from the accident. He joined the Australian cricket team in 2002.

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