Australia ball-tampering: 'Nonsense' only three players knew - Andrew Flintoff

Flintoff less than impressed with some ball-tampering reaction

It is "absolute nonsense" that only three Australia players knew about the ball-tampering scandal, says former England captain Andrew Flintoff.

Captain Steve Smith and vice-skipper David Warner were given year-long bans by Cricket Australia (CA) last month.

Batsman Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the cheating in South Africa, was given a nine-month suspension by CA.

"I am struggling to think that not everyone [in the team] knew," Flintoff told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I might be completely wrong but you talk about it. You talk about how you are going to treat the ball. The ball in cricket is so important."

In the third Test in Cape Town - which they went on to lose by 322 runs before a 3-1 series defeat - Bancroft was caught on camera using sandpaper to damage the ball.

Smith admitted the Australian "leadership group" had devised a plan to tamper with the ball, and CA's investigation found Warner instructed Bancroft on how to carry it out.

As well as the players being sanctioned, coach Darren Lehmann resigned in the wake of the scandal, though he was cleared of any involvement in the incident.

All three players have accepted the disciplinary measures taken against them and apologised for their part in the scandal.

However, at his news conference, Warner did not directly answer questions about whether any other members of the Australia team had been involved in the plan.

Tearful Warner: I may never play for Australia again

"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," said Flintoff.

"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 Mitchell Starc.

"He's got the ball in his hands. He's running in thinking he's Wasim Akram - this ball is moving everywhere.

"He is thinking: 'I'm cracking it here, I'm doing something which is unbelievable.'"

However, former England all-rounder Flintoff thinks the bans handed down were too harsh.

"The crime doesn't warrant that [the bans]," he said.

"One of the things which has really annoyed me is I've seen people raising their profile on the back of other people's misery.

"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?'"

How did Australia tamper with a cricket ball?