Steve Smith sobs as he apologises for ball tampering: "It was a failure of my leadership."

An emotional Steve Smith has broken down in tears addressing the ball tampering affair that cost him the Australian cricket captaincy and a one-year suspension from the game.

Smith cried on several occasions during the press conference in Sydney and had to be ushered from the room shortly after raising how he’d let down his father.

“I’m sorry,” Smith said in his initial statement to the assembled media.

“As captain of the Australian cricket team I take full responsibility.

“It was a failure of leadership, my leadership.

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“I’ll do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it’s caused.

“If any good can come of this, if there can be a lesson to others then I hope I can be a force for change. I know I’ll regret this for the rest of my life. I’m absolutely gutted. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness.”

While many pundits have expressed doubts that the ball tampering affair in Cape Town was a one-off incident, Smith made it clear that he had never encountered anything like it on his watch.

“To my knowledge this has never happened before,” he said.

His advice to young players in the game was to think deeply about making any questionable decisions as a cricketer.

Smith ultimately left in tears as he struggled to speak about the effect of what he had done had on his family.

Twitter users immediately shared an outpouring of sympathy for Smith, with Peter Helliar, Deborah Knight and Jenny Brockie among those who expressed their anguish for the former captain.