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'Australia were out of control for two years before the ball-tampering saga' - Ian Gould

'Australia were out of control for two years before the ball-tampering saga' - Ian Gould

Veteran umpire Ian Gould believes Australia's overtly aggressive nature in the years leading up to the dramatic ball-tampering episode in 2018 was indicative of how bad things had become in their cricketing culture.

Gould, a former member of the ICC Elite Panel for umpires, was the TV official in the infamous Cape Town Test, which was followed by a massive shake-up in Australian cricket.

The Englishman had spotted Cameron Bancroft stuffing a piece of sandpaper into his trousers after reviewing television replays and directed the on-field umpires to intervene and interrogate the tourists.

The fallout of the blatant exposé was huge as it resulted in bans for then-captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and Bancroft for their role in the scandal.

The controversy even prompted a condemnation from the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, as the culprits were vilified and the events thoroughly investigated back home.

“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 told the Daily Telegraph.

”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.

“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?”

The existing laws relating to ball-tampering offences were altered in order to punish players found guilty of wrongdoing more harshly.

Taking note of all the changes that took place and eventually helped create a much more mellow Australian unit, Gould concluded the strict reaction to the whole fiasco was good for the game.

“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."

Reflecting on the cheating done by the concerned players in the Newlands Test, Gould claimed there was visible evidence that the ball had been heavily tampered with during the game.

“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.”