Sport

Flintoff says Other Australian Players ‘Had to Know’ About Ball Tampering

Flintoff said the one-year suspensions handed out by Cricket Australia to former captain Smith and former vice-captain Warner and the nine-month ban for Bancroft as overly-harsh.

Send off: Australia's Brett Lee demonstrates the Australian sentiment toward Andrew Flintoff, at times.

The Australia trio were banned after admitting tampering with the ball in the third Test match of South Africa’s recent series victory.

Flintoff is convinced other players in the team would have known about plans to tamper with the ball and said he had great sympathy for the banned trio.

“I am struggling to think that not everyone (in the team) knew,” Flintoff told the BBC.

“I might be completely wrong but you talk about it – you talk about how you’re going to treat the ball. The ball in cricket is so important.

“To say that a bowler has got a ball in his hands, or anybody else in the field does not know that this ball has been tampered with is absolute nonsense.

“You talk and talk and talk about how you’re going to look after this ball. To then say that other people didn’t know; if that’s the case I feel sorry for Mitchell Starc.

“He’s got the ball in his hands, he’s running in thinking, ‘he’s Wasim Akram’. This ball’s moving everywhere, he’s thinking, ‘I’m cracking it here, I’m doing something which is unbelievable’. Don’t tell me you didn’t know.”

When asked if he considered the punishments meted out by Cricket Australia were fair, Flintoff replied: “No – I think the crime doesn’t warrant that.

Cameron Bancroft hiding the infamous sandpaper.

“One of the things which has really annoyed me is that I’ve seen people raising their profile on the back of other people’s misery.

“I’ve seen people I’ve played with, who have been good to me; I have seen them change in the space of two seconds.

“All of a sudden (they say) ‘let’s call for their head, this is disgusting, this is disgraceful’.

“Some of them are in glass houses: don’t be chucking your stones lads. We’ve done a few things which aren’t particularly in the rules – not as bad as that – and it changes.

“Then I saw Steve Smith on TV crying his eyes out, so upset, and I put a tweet out saying: ‘Are you happy now? Is that what you wanted’?”

“I made a serious error of judgement and I now know the consequences. It was a failure of leadership,” says Steve Smith addressing the ball-tampering scandal in a tearful apology.

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