Andrew Flintoff, the former England fast bowler, feels that Steve Smith took the entire blame on himself to save the Australian team in the Sandpapergate back in March 2018. In the Cape Town Test against South Africa, Smith along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were handed suspensions from Cricket Australia (CA). It was deemed as one of the darkest phases in their cricket.
The trio was immediately told to leave South Africa. Smith was also banned from taking any leadership roles for two years- a suspension which has now expired. From there on, Tim Paine has been in charge of the team and has done a reasonable job. Flintoff has found it tough to fathom that the entire Australian unit wasn’t aware of the scandal to begin with.
It’s stupid more than anything: Andrew Flintoff
“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 was quoted as saying in Talk Sport.
“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,” Flintoff stated.
“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. Following the fiasco at the Newlands, head coach Darren Lehmann also stepped down. Justin Langer took charge of the team thereafter.
Both Warner and Smith made their returns to international cricket in the 2019 edition of the World Cup in England and Wales. On the other hand, Bancroft returned in the 2018-19 Big Bash League, representing the Perth Scorchers.
Both Smith and Warner were greeted with flak from the English crowd. It didn’t change even during the Ashes that followed the 50-over mega event. After making his comeback, Smith also managed to reclaim his top spot in ICC’s rankings of best Test batsman.
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