Umpire Ian Gould, whose role as the TV umpire was crucial during the Australian ball-tampering scandal back in 2018, said that he was surprised by how big the episode became.
During the third Test against South Africa in Newlands, Australia opener Cameron Bancroft was caught with a piece of sandapaper. Television footage appeared to show him take an object out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session on the third day of the Test. He was spoken to by the on-field umpires after a word from Gould, who was informed by the television operators.
But the admission of deliberate ball-tampering with the knowledge of the leadership group by captain Steve Smith in the post-match press conference sent shock waves through the cricket community and resulted in a far-reaching chain reaction.
Bancroft, Smith and vice captain David Warner were banned from international cricket for a period as Australian cricket hit a new low. Even the country’s prime minister was involved in slamming their actions.
“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 wrote in his autobiography Gunner - My Life in Cricket.
Gould retired from international cricket after the 2019 ODI World Cup in England.
“... 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?,” Gould was quoted as saying by Daily Telegraph in an interview while promoting his book.
“When the director said, ‘He’s put something down the front of his trousers,’ I started giggling, because that didn’t sound quite right,” he added.
According to ESPNCricinfo, Gould still has the balls that were used in the Newlands Test, locked away in a London safe.
“I didn’t realise what the repercussions would be. 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.
“Obviously, what’s come from it is for the betterment of Australian cricket - and cricket generally,” he said.