Andrew Flintoff has hit out at “nonsense” suggestions knowledge of Australia’s ball-tampering scandal was limited to banned trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
Former England all-rounder Flintoff has criticised the one-year bans to former captain Smith and former vice-captain Warner and the nine-month suspension for Bancroft as overly-harsh.
The Australia trio were banned after admitting tampering with the ball in the third Test match of South Africa’s three-one series victory.
Flintoff feels convinced other Australia players would have known about plans to tamper with the ball, while he also revealed sympathy for the banned trio.
“I am struggling to think that not everyone knew,” Flintoff told BBC Radio 5 live.
“I might be completely wrong but you talk about it. You talk about how you are 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,” Flintoff added.
“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 is moving everywhere.
“He is thinking: ‘I’m cracking it here, I’m doing something which is unbelievable.'”
That being said, Flintoff felt the bans on the three players were harsh.
“The crime doesn’t warrant that.
“One of the things which has really annoyed me is I’ve seen people raising their profile on the back of other people’s misery.
“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?'”
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