Andrew Flintoff believes that being the captain of Australian, Steve Smith had taken the blame for the Sandpaper gate, during their tour of South Africa in 2018, to save his team. According to the former England all-rounder, the whole team could not have been unaware of the ball tampering case.
It was during the third Test match of Australia’s tour of South Africa, in 2018, that Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera tampering the ball with sandpaper, which he kept in his pocket. Eventually, it was found out that Bancroft, a newcomer, was made to do so by vice-captain David Warner during the Cape Town Test.
Following that, the then captain Steve Smith also got involved in the infamous ‘sandpaper gate’ and the trio were suspended by the ICC before Cricket Australia banned the three cricketers. Smith and Warner, who banned for a year each, were stripped of their leadership roles (Smith for two years, life ban for Warner) besides a one-year ban while Bancroft was suspended for a period of nine months by their own board.
In a press conference held, a teary-eyed remorseful Smith had taken the whole blame onto himself. But according to veteran all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, the entire Australian team were involved in a ball-tampering scandal and that the then captain, as it was impossible for all the team members to not be aware of what was going on. Flintoff believes that Steve Smith had taken the blame upon himself to save the honour of the rest of his teammates.
"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. I can't believe that the whole team wasn't in on it. As a bowler, if someone gives me a ball that's been tampered with, I know immediately. One of the things that Steve Smith did is take the blame for everyone else," Flintoff said in a show with Talksport on Wednesday (April 22), reported Cricbuzz.
"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 could.”