Former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff feels that former Australia captain Steve Smith took the entire blame for the infamous ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket in 2018, whereas the whole team was possibly involved. “I can’t believe that the whole team isn’t in on it. As a bowler, if someone gives me a ball that’s been tampered with, I know initially. One of the things that Steve Smith did is take the blame for everyone else,” Flintoff told Talksport.
During the third Test match against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town, in March 2018, Cameron Bancroft was caught live by the cameras roughing up one side of the ball with a piece of sandpaper. Bancroft put the sandpaper down the front of his trousers, before having an inquisitive chat with the on-field umpires. Later, during the press conference, Steve Smith admitted that the tampering was machinated by the “team leadership group” “It was a failure of leadership, my leadership” he added. Post the incident, Steven Smith and David Warner were banned from the game for a year each and Bancroft for nine months.
Australia’s coach, Darren Lehmann, immediately stepped down and was later replaced by Justin Langer. Smith was further banned from taking any leadership roles for a span of two years—a suspension which has now expired. “Things like ball tampering have gone on for a long, long time and I think it’s just the degrees where you take it. We were accused of putting sweets on the ball. People put suncream on it, tried everything they can,” said Flintoff, the former ace all-rounder who has scored over 7,000 runs and taken 400 wickets in his career. “Sandpaper is wrong, but it’s stupid more than anything. But I can’t believe that everyone in the team wasn’t involved in some way or another,” he added