Andrew Flintoff's assessment of the Aussie ball tampering crisis is as honest as you would expect

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To say that it has been a rough few days for Australian Cricket would be the understatement of the decade.

Since captain Steve Smith admitted that he and the so-called “leadership team” had resorted to ball tampering in a desperate attempt to beat South Africa, the Australians have been caught up in a vicious media storm calling for the axing of both Smith and coach Darren Lehmann.

Smith has been banned for the upcoming test in Johannesburg and is expected to be permanently stripped of the captaincy while Cameron Bancroft, who unfortunately became designated tamperer, was fined three demerit points by the ICC.

The Aussies have quickly become the laughing stock of world cricket with countless satirical videos and jokes doing the rounds on social media.

One of the game's finest players - and leader of one of the biggest members of the ICC - encouraging one of the junior members of his squad to cheat in this way is difficult to believe.

Sadly, this can only be described as one of the darkest periods in cricketing history.

Now, vice-captain David Warner is emerging as a “central character” in the whole ball tampering scandal with reports coming out of Australia even suggesting that his teammates have asked that he be removed from the team hotel.

It really is going from bad to worse.

Now, former England captain Freddie Flintoff, known for always speaking his mind, has had his say on the crisis and it doesn’t make for pretty reading for the Aussies.

Flintoff accused the Aussies of only being sorry this time around because they were caught and implied that they had been cheating in this way for years.

“Australia attempted a lot of times to be ‘poor us, we’re fine, we don’t cross the mark’,” said Flintoff speaking on BBC 5 live.

“But you do lads to be honest, you’ve done it for years and years and years and now you’re getting found out.”

South Africa v Australia - 3rd Test: Day 3

Flintoff then slammed Bancroft for the role he played in the debacle and held nothing back in his assessment of the batsman’s actions.

“I think it’s very thick, it’s embarrassing for the people involved. I think the debate is to what extent are you cheating.”

Freddie not mincing his words then.

“You’ve heard all sorts of stories about ball tampering, all these things have gone on over time and now is the time to draw a line. What we’ve seen is cheating, there’s no two ways about it.

“It’s not a subtlety of [using] sun cream or sucking on a mint. Sometimes when it comes to sport, and it comes to cricket, the moral compass has been a little bit skewed. What they think is acceptable and right, I’m not quite sure at times.”

Flintoff then concluded his rant in the most Flintoff way possible stating:

“Australians think they’re the best. They think that they’re strongest, they think they’re the best cricket team in the world. And to think: ‘Actually, we’ve had to cheat to beat South Africa, who aren’t that good.’ That is a massive kick in the nuts.”

Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland is expected to address the media from Johannesburg this afternoon and could face a rather uncomfortable time.

Whatever the result, Steve Smith will probably be wishing he could take that day back - especially if he spends the next few months watching cricket from his couch, with his reputation in pieces all around him.

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