Relationships within the Australian Test team were "strained" by the Newlands ball tampering scandal but "remain very much intact", fast bowler Mitchell Starc has said in clarifying his reported comments at a business forum in Sydney this week.
Starc added further context to his comments about the key press conference following the revelation of attempts to use a foreign object to tamper with the ball in Cape Town. At the time, former captain Steven Smith said it had been a decision of the "leadership group" to resort to measures outside the laws and spirit of the game.
"Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a 'Women in Banking and Finance' forum in Sydney with my wife Alyssa," Starc said in a statement on his website. "I was invited as one of the guest panelists at the event, which provided some fantastic insight from some very successful and influential businesswomen in understanding the role we play in managing our own personal and professional reputation.
"My comments at the forum were provided in the context of a particular topic, as it related to being honest and authentic in delivering a message. This context has unfortunately been lost in certain media reporting and headlines in recent days. But fundamentally there are many things that we can all learn from recent events in South Africa.
"It was such a stressful time in our lives. There was strain on relationships both as individuals and as a team. However, the relationships of that group remain very much intact. I look forward to the opportunity to play alongside every one of my team-mates from that tour again. We still have a long way to go in rebuilding the trust with the Australian public and I know personally, that I am 100% committed to doing that."
Starc said that he retained the "utmost respect" for Smith, and looked forward to playing alongside him, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft once their bans elapse. "Despite reports to the contrary, I continue to have the utmost respect for Steve Smith as captain, team-mate and friend and I look forward to having him back in our great game soon," he said.
"That goes for David and Cameron who have also been through an extremely tough time. It is good to see all three guys planning to be back in cricket soon in different competitions around the world. Rebuilding trust and developing a positive reputation will take time and through our actions, we hope to demonstrate this to cricket fans everywhere.
"The process has already started and the focus now should be on the cricket being played and the stories of performance and change in the current series, led by new Aussie coach Justin Langer, captain Tim Paine and the current team over in the UK. To all stakeholders and fans out there, please stick with us. Trust me when I say we all love the game as much as you do!"