The third umpire that helped spot the infamous sandpaper gate scandal, which earmarked one of the lowest points in the nation’s sporting history, claims the incident was the best thing that could have happened to Australian cricket.
British umpire Ian Gould was the third umpire in Cape Town back in 2018 and noticed Cameron Bancroft tampering with the ball using a piece of sandpaper.
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Gould has previously described Australia’s behaviour leading up to the South African tour as ‘out of control’ and has now labelled the behaviour ‘laddish’, which needed to be recognised.
“Laddish. Jack the lads they were. Now they are a completely different team,” he said on ESPN’s CricketInfo.
“It's probably the greatest thing that happened to them. You know, they were going through these pay talks.
“But there was only a few of them that were getting a bit hostile and in your face.”
Then captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were all suspended for the role in the incident.
The dark day in Australian sport also prompted a cultural review into Aussie cricket.
But Gould claims he has spoken to a number of the players and feels at the time they didn’t recognise things were getting ‘out of hand’.
“I have spoken to some of the players and they probably didn't see it, like me with my mental illness,” he added.
“But if there's a few of you doing the same things, part of you thinks, "Well, that's all right." It just got out of hand.”
‘Out of control’: Gould
In his autobiography, Gunner - My Life in Cricket, the 62-year-old umpire 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.”
But Gould claimed Australian cricket was not in a good place for a number of years.
“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 wrote.