A cheeky attempt by New Zealand Airways to poke fun at axed Aussie captain Steve Smith turned sour, as it seemed to rub more salt in the wound, just as Smith was saying he would regret the decision he made for the rest of his life.
The Twitter video, which has since been deleted following his emotional press conference, dubbed Smith a "naughty boy" and offered him the chance to fly to New Zealand – where the NZ national side is currently playing the touring England side – to be part of the cricket action "legally".
Hey Steve, we hear that you are heading home for some time off. While you've been a naughty boy, our boys have been doing rather nicely. This Friday, we are taking on the poms again, in Christchurch. How about a master class in (legal) swing bowling? Oh also, it's a little cooler down south. So, it might be a nice way to escape the heat back home. David and Cameron are welcome too. Anyway, offer's thereNz Airways
Smith, who has been banned for one year and was axed as the Baggy Greens' captain, held a press conference in Australia and broke down in tears as he discussed the ball-tampering scandal.
"I made a big mistake by allowing this to happen," he wept.
The airline probably made a wise decision in axing the advert, as Smith's heartbreak and regret were visible for all to see – making the fateful decision to cheat has possibly cost him his career.
Heartbreaking. Steve Smith has broken down delivering a message to young Aussie cricket fans. pic.twitter.com/l14AsvAhXz— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018
Australia now takes on the Proteas in the final Test on Friday at the Wanderers Stadium without three of its best players. Many cricket fans are now expressing support for Smith, despite his downfall being entirely his own fault:
A total broken man who does know the gravity of his situation. #SteveSmith - really hope his psychological state is observed as no-one, no-one deserves to mentally suffer for the rest of their life. For a ball game. #cricket— Melissa Hoyer (@melissahoyer) March 29, 2018
We are not the sum total of our greatest mistakes. My heart goes out to @stevesmith49 who has given me so much cricketing joy over the years. He is also a thoroughly decent human being. I stand by him and will be here upon his return. #SteveSmith— Peter Helliar 🌈🌥☘️ (@pjhelliar) March 29, 2018
You can think what you want about the offence...— Aaron Kearney (@aaronkearneyaus) March 29, 2018
...but you have to have ice in your veins if you enjoyed that public execution #SteveSmith
I just want to hug the bloke. Heartbreaking watching a broken man #StevenSmith— Michael Usher (@michaelusher) March 29, 2018
Just gotta feel for this man - he is not a criminal - yet so many out there judging him when their own house hasn't perhaps always been in order...🤔 Sure @stevesmith49 did wrong & must face the heat, but think it's all gone just a bit overboard... 🙏🏻🙏🏻🏏🏏 #StevenSmithpic.twitter.com/BG2btrEiWR— Dave Nosworthy (@DONCRICKET) March 28, 2018
One mistake is all it takes in this ruthless world.— Nkosinathi Shazi (@NkosinathiShazi) March 29, 2018