Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff believes then skipper Steve Smith took the blame to save his side in the ball-tampering scandal of 2018.

Smith was suspended for a year, along with then vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft after the latter was caught on camera using a sandpaper to scrub the ball during the third Test match against South Africa in Cape Town.

“I can’t believe that the whole team isn’t in on it,” Flintoff told Talksport. “As a bowler, if someone gives me a ball that’s been tampered with, I know initially. One of the things that Steve Smith did is take the blame for everyone else.”

Flintoff added: “Things like ball tampering have gone on for a long, long time and I think it’s just the degrees where you take it. We were accused of putting sweets on the ball. People put suncream on it, tried everything they can.”

Smith was also banned from taking any leadership roles for two years – a suspension which has now expired. The England legend found it difficult to believe that Smith’s teammates weren’t aware of what was going on.

“Sandpaper is wrong, but it’s stupid more than anything. But I can’t believe that everyone in the team wasn’t involved in some way or another,” Flintoff.

The Mancunian, who retired from the longer format after the 2009 Ashes, said he would give up everything to play one more Test for England.

He said: “It’s getting easier as I’m 42 and don’t think I should be playing cricket now, but when I finished at 31, I couldn’t go anywhere near it, I just wanted to be a cricketer. Still now I would swap everything I do to play one more Test match and wear that England badge at Old Trafford one more time.

“It’s only when it’s finished that you think I should have cherished it more. When it’s gone it’s so hard.”