Mixed reaction as Smith appears in Australian TV advert

Steve Smith

Ex-Australia captain Steve Smith has appeared in a Vodafone Australia advert in a bid to “spread awareness about mental health for young Australians”.

Smith is serving a 12-month ban from playing state or international cricket for his role in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in March.

He is also banned from the Big Bash, sponsored by Vodafone Australia.

“Everything I dreamed of, everything I was a part of was just falling to pieces,” Smith, 29, says in the advert.

The ‘Gutsy is Calling’ commercial starts with a voice-over of Smith’s tearful apology when he spoke to the media on his return from South Africa, before cutting to scenes of him playing for local club Sutherland and conducting a coaching clinic.

“I was in a pretty dark space. It was just about being upfront and honest and taking responsibility,” he adds.

“I’ve certainly had some difficult days. But it’s OK to be vulnerable. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s about the way you respond to it that’s really important.”

Australian media reported that Smith was donating his fee – understood to be the equivalent of around £84,000 – to a local charity for men’s mental health, but the advert was criticised by others.

“Don’t use mental illness to try and flog off some phones,” 3AW radio host Justin Smith said on the Melbourne station.

“Looking at this tacky rubbish, I wonder if he’s learnt anything at all.”

Vodafone Australia responded to criticism on Twitter: “As a supportive employer, a lover of sport, and a business that has overcome challenges of its own in the past, the story of former Aussie cricket captain Steve Smith struck a chord.

“Vodafone believes in a fair go for all Australians and importantly, being open, honest and transparent. We are supporting Steve Smith in his mission to spread awareness about mental health for young Australians.”

ABC cricket commentator Jim Maxwell says there has been a mixed reaction to the advert.

“On the one hand you can say that it’s crass to be doing something for a phone company about this but on the other, at least he’s putting [mental health issues] out there,” Maxwell told BBC Sport.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

BBC Sport – Cricket

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