Suspended Australia cricketer Steve Smith addressed the media for the first time on Friday since his teary-eyed press conference upon his arrival in Australia after the ball-tampering row in South Africa in March, 2018.
Smith, who was stripped off his captaincy and banned for a year for his involvement in the ball-tampering row at Cape Town, has been playing grade cricket and T20 tournaments around the world to stay in touch with the game.
Smith and David Warner's bans end in March, 2019, following which, they will be available for selection internationally. The duo, who have started making more public appearances recently, were also seen playing in the Australia nets ahead of the first Test against India in Adelaide.
Smith, who was the No.1 Test batsman in the world and had the world at his feet back in March, had to walk away at a crucial juncture and Australian cricket has not been the same since. He was hurt and battered but almost eight months after the ill-fated incident, Smith says he is okay and his close people have helped him get over the tough days.
"I'm going okay. I've had tough days, as I've said. I've had my ups and downs. I've been really fortunate to have a close group around me that helped me get through those difficult times. There have been some dark days where I haven't wanted to get out of bed and things like that.
"But, you know, I've had a close group of people around me that have helped me know that it's OK, you know? Like, I've made a mistake and it was a big mistake, and from now on I'm trying to move on from that and improve as a person," Smith told the media.
The former Australia captain also said that it is his fault that he didn't stop any wrongdoing as a captain and that is why he didn't want to appeal the 12-month ban imposed by Cricket Australia on him -- something that many thought is a bit too much.
"I walked past something in the room and had the opportunity to stop it I didn't. That was my responsibility to stop it, and that didn't happen and I have to take responsibility for that.
"[Didn't appeal ban] Because I just wanted to accept it and own - and take responsibility for it. I didn't think about, um, reviewing it at all or appealing it, as such. It was just about accepting it and knowing that I'd made a mistake and accepting it and moving on from it," Smith said.
Steve Smith addressing the media and says it's been tough at times watching the Australian team, but was proud of the side after the win in Perth pic.twitter.com/xCJ3EKzeam— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 21, 2018
He went on to add that he is happy at where he is now and is not thinking about captaining Australia now but just be a part of the Ashes and 2019 World Cup squads.
"At the moment I am happy where I'm at. The next three months, it's just about preparing as well as I can to hopefully be a part of the World Cup and the Ashes."
"And, you know, as I said before, I think Tim Paine has done an exceptional job. And Aaron Finch taking over the one-day side, he's had a tough start to that with the performances of the team, I guess. But, you know, if I get back and play under them, I'll do everything I can to help them out and help Australia have success.
"I just want to get back playing and try and contribute to the team as much as I can. And just help out anyone that's around. Tim and Finchy as well. So, we'll see what the future holds. But at the moment I'm just preparing to play. And I'm excited by that prospect," said the New South Wales batter.
He also hailed Tim Paine's leadership as 'outstanding' and said that Australian cricket currently is being played at the right spirit and that is how the fans have always wanted to see.
"I think Tim Paine's leadership has been outstanding," Smith said.
"I think that's the way Australian cricket has always played its best when they're playing hard, but playing within the parameters of the game. Obviously, what happened in South Africa was outside of the parameters of the game, and shouldn't be happening, but since then I think - and even before then - the players have played some good, hard cricket," he added.
"And you're gonna have times where guys will overstep the mark and pay consequences for that. But we try and play in a hard and fair manner. And I think that's what the Australian public wants to see, and I think that's what gets the best out of the team as well."