Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff believes ace batsman Steve Smith was made the scapegoat of the ball-tampering scandal which tainted the image of Australian cricket. Flintoff believes the entire Australian team was at fault and was involved in the ball-tampering saga which happened during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in 2018. Flintoff believes Smith ‘took the entire blame’ to save the Australian cricket team. Also Read - MCC Chief Kumar Sangakkara on Future of ICC T20 World Cup 2020, Says Too Early to Answer Any Questions
The former Australia captain – Smith faced suspension for a year for his involvement in the controversy. Other than Smith, openers – David Warner and Cameron Bancroft also faced bans for their involvement in the sandpaper-gate during Cape Town Test. Also Read - West Indies Cricket Board Approves 'Bio-secure' Test Tour of England in July
“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. Also Read - ICC Men's T20 World Cup Under 'Very High Risk' of Being Postponed: Cricket Australia
“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.”
Smith was also banned from taking any leadership roles for two years – a suspension that has now expired. The England legend said it is 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, who took 400 wickets and scored over 7000 runs in his career.
Flintoff, who retired from the longer format after the 2009 Ashes, 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.”