SYDNEY (Reuters) – Former Australia captain Steve Smith said on Friday he hopes to return to international cricket in time for the 2019 World Cup and is braced for a “hostile” reception from English fans once his ball-tampering suspension finishes.
Smith was facing Australian media for the first time since his teary apology at a news conference at Sydney airport on March 29, when he pledged to “do anything” to make up for his mistake in Cape Town.
The 29-year-old told reporters it had been tough at times watching Australia play from the sidelines and said he was determined to break back into the side for the May 30-July 14 World Cup and the Ashes beyond that.
“I’m just moving forward day to day, doing what I need to do to prepare to hopefully get another opportunity to play for Australia and if that’s the World Cup and Ashes, so be it,” Smith told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“No doubt the English crowd will be incredibly hostile. I’m ready for that if that happens.
“I’ll keep working hard and if I get that opportunity again, that’d be great.”
Smith has been keeping a low media profile, despite playing at Twenty20 tournaments in Canada and the Caribbean and turning out for his Sydney club side Sutherland.
However, in recent weeks he has made gradual moves to rehabilitate his public image and joined his former Australia team mates at training sessions.
He has also tested the waters of his brand power with a tie-up with the local arm of Britain’s Vodafone Group, shooting an advertisement which played on his shame and hopes of redemption.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)