Smith and David Warner served year-long bans for the incident, while Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months, after he was caught on cameras with sandpaper in his pockets during the Cape Town Test in March 2018. Smith also lost his role as captain of the team, and was banned from a leadership role for two years – a sanction that lapsed last month.
Flintoff, however, believes the whole team was involved, and that Smith was taking the blame for everyone else. “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 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.”
The trio have since returned to international cricket and reintegrated with the squad, with Smith being particularly impressive on his return, playing a starring role as Australia retained the Ashes in England in 2019.