Smith 'took blame' to save side: Flintoff on 2018 ball-tampering scandal

GUWAHATI: Two years after the ball-tampering scandal in 2018, for which Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were put under one year suspension by the ICC, former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff said he believes that the entire Australian team was involved in the scandal.

Smith took the blame upon him to save the team from facing humiliation, Flintoff said.

The trio was suspended for a year after being indicted in the sandpaper-gate during a Test match against South Africa in Cape Town.

During an interview with Talksport, Flintoff said, “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.”

“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.”

The former English cricketer found it difficult to believe that others in the team did not have a clue about what was going on.

“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,” said Flintoff.

On cricket, Flintoff said he would give up everything to play one more Test for England.

“It’s getting easier as I’m 42 and don’t think I should be playing cricket now, but when I finished at 31, I couldn't go anywhere near it, I just wanted to be a cricketer. Still now I would swap everything I do to play one more Test match and wear that England badge at Old Trafford one more time.”

“It’s only when it’s finished that you think I should have cherished it more. When it’s gone it's so hard.”