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Gould says Australia were out of control two-three years before Sandpapergate

In the absence of Smith and Warner, Australia might struggle to score big runs
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Ian Gould, who officiated as the third umpire during the infamous 2018 Newlands Test between South Africa and Australia that has since come to be known for the ball-tampering scandal, said that Australia had been a pretty poorly behaved side well before the controversy.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph ahead of the release of his book, Gunner – My Life In Cricket, Gould called the Australians “pretty average people”.

“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.”

Gould admitted, however, that he did not see the issue spiralling to the magnitude that it did, with even the then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull publicly voicing his stance on the controversy.

“I didn’t realise what the repercussions would be,” Gould said. “But when it [the information] 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. 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?

“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.”

The fallout of the controversy saw year-long bans being handed out to Steve Smith and David Warner, with the former being stripped of the captaincy, and a nine-month suspension for Cameron Bancroft, the main enactor of the offence.

It didn’t end there, however, as in a trickle down effect, the entire culture of Australian cricket was later scrutinised. Newly appointed head coach Justin Langer ushered the team in a new era under the leadership of Tim Paine in Tests, with Aaron Finch at the helm in limited overs.

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