Melbourne: Newly-crowned Australian cricketer of the year David Warner on Monday said "I've let you guys down in the past", recalling, in his moment of glory, his one-year ball-tampering ban.
An emotional Warner won his third Allan Border Medal beating teammate Steve Smith by one vote in their first season following the ban that brought their rollicking careers to a one-year halt.
"I know I've let you guys down in the past. It's just been remarkable to come back," Warner was quoted as saying by foxsports.com.au.
The dashing opener added, "With the World Cup, to not go the whole way was disappointing. The Ashes, retaining that was fantastic - I obviously didn't turn up and I apologise for that - but I really had the hunger and determination to come back and do the best for our team.
"To come back and have a summer like that and just contribute, it really put a smile on my face - and I hope it did for you guys as well."
Then vice-captain and captain — Warner and Smith — were each suspended for a year by Cricket Australia and opener Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal during a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town in March 2018.
"Having three daughters at home, looking up to guys like (Steve Smith) 'Smithy', (Pat Cummins) 'Cummo' - playing cricket in the backyard they're yelling out Virat Kohli's name - but these are the smiles on kids' faces that we put on," Warner said.
"To go back there and be able to be reintegrated into grassroots, go back to grade cricket, put a smile on people's faces that way - it really helped me get to where I am today.
"Without that, getting cricket taken away from you - something I've always dreamt of - it really, really hurt."
Warner said Australian cricket was headed in the right direction.
"If I move forward into being reintegrated, it's obviously been a fantastic 12 months for the Australian cricket team - men and women.
"I think we're moving in the right direction, we've got great leaders at the top, obviously from the CEO down to the two captains and Meg (Lanning) - you do a great job, sitting on the sidelines you don't realise how good of a job you guys do," he said.
He also hoped that the money raised through the Bushfire charity fundraiser match would help after the damage caused to wildlife and families due to the catastrophe.
"Obviously there were lives lost, wildlife lost and a lot of people's homes have been trashed as well, so hopefully a little bit of the support that went down yesterday - and we raised a lot of money - can contribute to rebuilding that for you out there," he said.
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