‘Behavioural, chatty, pretty average people’: Ian Gould says Australia were ‘out of control’ before ball-tampering
Former ICC Elite Panel umpire Ian Gould on Thursday recalled the 2018 sandpapergate scandal that rocked Cricket Australia, and said that Australia cricket team was out of control two-three years before the incident took place. During the 3rd Day of the Newlands Test against South Africa in March 2018, Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera rubbing the ball with what appeared to be sandpaper. He was also caught shoving the sandpaper down his pants.
The incident led to massive backlash all over the world, with Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison coming heavily down on the three players involved - skipper Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and fielder Bancroft. Smith and Warner were given a year-ban for their role in the incident while Bancroft faced a six-month ban.
Gould, who retired last year, was the TV umpire of that match and was the one who saw the footage and relayed it to the on-field umpires. Speaking on the ball-tampering Gould told Daily Telegraph: “If you look back on it now, Australia were out of control probably two years, maybe three years, before that, but not in this sense. Maybe - behavioural, chatty, being pretty average people.”
He further went on to add that he did not realise how big the incident would become. “I didn’t realise what the repercussions would be. But when it came into my earpiece I didn’t think the Prime Minister of Australia was going to come tumbling down on these three guys. All I thought was - Jesus, how do I put this out to the guys on the field without making it an overreaction,” he said.
“It was a bit like on Mastermind when the light is on top of you and you’re going - oh dear, how do I talk through this?” he added.
“When the director said, ‘He’s put something down the front of his trousers,’ I started giggling, because that didn’t sound quite right. Obviously, what’s come from it is for the betterment of Australian cricket - and cricket generally,” he further said.
“If you saw the balls, you would get it completely wrong. At the end of the day, the sandpaper didn’t get on that ball. They were working to get the ball to be pristine. Once they’d got one side bigger and shinier, that’s when the sandpaper was coming in,” he added.
Ball-tampering was classed as a level two offence under the ICC Code of Conduct, but it has since been elevated to a level three category, which carries a ban of up to six Tests or 12 ODIs.
(With PTI inputs)