Flintoff criticises Australian Cricket Ban on 5 live podcast
Former England cricket captain Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff has said that punishment of the Australian cricketers banned for a year after the ball-tampering scandal, is too harsh.
Speaking on tonight’s BBC 5 live podcast Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy, he says he suspects the wider team would have known what was going on, and that it is unfair to single Smith, Warner and Bancroft out.
Cricket Australia have banned captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner from playing for Australia for 12 months, while Cameron Bancroft has been vetoed for nine months.
Flintoff says: “I am struggling to think that not everyone [in the team] knew. I might be completely wrong but [in a team meeting] you talk about it – you talk about how you’re going to treat the ball. The ball in cricket is so important. To say that a bowler has got a ball in his hands, or anybody else in the field does not know that this ball has been tampered with is absolute nonsense.”
Flintoff remembers the detail of pre-match briefings saying: “You talk and talk and talk about how you’re going to look after this ball. To then say that other people didn’t know .. if that’s the case I feel sorry for [bowler] Mitchell Stark. He’s got the ball in his hands, he’s running in thinking he’s Wasim Akram! This balls’ moving everywhere, he’s thinking ‘I’m cracking it here. I’m doing something which is unbelievable. Don’t tell me you didn’t know!”
When asked by co-host and ex-footballer Robbie Savage if the ban on the Australian players is fair Flintoff replies “No – I think the crime doesn’t warrant that.”
On the criticism levelled at the players
Flintoff has also said he disagrees with the level of criticism aimed at the players.
“One of the things which has really annoyed me ….is that I’ve seen people raising their profile on the back of other people’s misery … I’ve seen people I’ve played with, who have been good to me… I have seen them change in the space of two seconds. All of a sudden [they say] ‘let’s call for their head .. this is disgusting, this is disgraceful.’
“Some of them are in glass houses… don’t be chucking your stones lads. We’ve done a few things which aren’t particularly in the rules – not as bad as that – and it changes. Then I saw Steve Smith on TV crying his eyes out, so upset, and I put a tweet out saying ‘Are you happy now? Is that what you wanted?’”
Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy is a BBC Radio 5 live podcast presented by ex England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff, former footballer Robbie Savage and author and journalist Matthew Syed.
Listen to the full podcast Flintoff Savage and the Ping Pong Guy – online here.