London: Former ICC umpire Ian Gould has stated that Australia were "out of control" before the infamous sandpaper-gate controversy which rocked the cricketing world two years back.
Gould was officiating as one of the on-field umpires in the Newlands Test between South Africa where Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera tampering the ball with a piece of sandpaper in Cape Town in 2018.
Steve Smith, who was leading the Australian team, was stripped of the captaincy after that scandal and alongside David Warner was banned for 12 months. Bancroft, on the other hand, was given a nine-month sanction while Cricket Australia also brought in huge cultural review.
"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," Gould told the Daily Telegraph while promoting his autobiography Gunner - My Life in Cricket.
Gould, who retired from international cricket after last year's World Cup, admitted he couldn't quite believe what he saw on the TV pictures but what happened afterwards took place for the betterment of Australian cricket.
"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. 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?"
"When the director said, 'He's put something down the front of his trousers,' I started giggling, because that didn't sound quite right. Obviously, what's come from it is for the betterment of Australian cricket - and cricket generally," ge added.
The 62-year-old also revealed that he still has the balls that were used in the Newlands Test, locked away in a London safe.
Recently, Australia Test captain Tim Paine had said that player behaviour has significantly improved throughout Australian cricket after the 2018 scandal and the scrutiny that followed the episode.
After that incident, even the ICC amended laws and ball-tampering was classified as a level-three offence under ICC Code of Conduct, carrying a ban of up to six Tests or 12 ODIs.