London, April 22 (IANS) Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff feels former Australia captain Steve Smith took the blame for the infamous ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket in 2018. Then-skipper Smith, his deputy David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft were handed respective bans for their part in the Cape Town controversy.

Smith and Warner were banned from the game for one year each while Bancroft was suspended for nine months by Cricket Australia (CA). Smith and Warner were hit with further leadership bans as well, however, Flintoff believes the whole team must have been part of the incident one way or the other.

“I can’t believe that the whole team isn’t in on it,” Flintoff told talkSPORT. “As a bowler, if someone gives me a ball that’s been tampered with, I know initially. One of the things that Steve 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 sun cream on it, tried everything they can.

“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.

The trio has since returned to international cricket after serving their respective sanctions. Smith and Warner have slotted back seamlessly into the team and have already put up stunning performances with the bat.

Smith almost single-handedly helped them retain the Ashes in England last year while Warner became the seventh Australian to score a triple century in the longest format against Pakistan in November.

–IANS

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