Veteran umpire Ian Gould has recounted his memories from the Australian ball-tampering scandal, saying the Aussies’ behaviour had been out of control for years.
The Englishman was acting as third umpire as Australia battled South Africa in Cape Town in 2018, in a Test that would culminate into the infamous sandpaper-gate scandal.
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In his new autobiography, Gunner - My Life in Cricket, the 62-year-old recounts his shock after Australia’s attempts to rub sandpaper on the ball came to light.
“Then the true scandal really broke, when more TV pictures showed Bancroft concealing sandpaper, and shame descended not only on Australia's cricket team, but the nation,” Gould writes.
“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.”
Gould says that infamous day in March 2018 had actually been building for a number of years as Australia’s behaviour on the field grew increasingly poor.
However he believes it’s sparked change for the better.
“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,” he writes.
“Maybe – behavioural, chatty, being pretty average people.
“Obviously, what's come from it is for the betterment of Australian cricket – and cricket generally.”
Gould’s comments echo those of Ricky Ponting
Former captain Ricky Ponting expressed similar concerns about the state of Australian cricket before the Cape Town scandal.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo in February, Ponting revealed how he had been worried for a number of years about the lack of leadership around the national side after he retired.
Ponting said there weren’t enough senior leaders around the team to put a stop to things before the scandal played out on the field.
“If I look at where things got at Cape Town I just don't think there were enough people around that team to say 'no' to some of those guys. Things got completely out of control,” Ponting said.
"I probably should have retired three or four years earlier than I did but I was really worried about where the direction of the Australian cricket team was going if I wasn't around.
“And I wanted to be around to help Warner and Smith and Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson.
“I wanted to help them through that initial phase of their international careers because I knew it wasn't going to be easy for them.”