Steve Smith and David Warner were handed one-year suspensions, while Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal. @ Getty
Steve Smith and David Warner were handed one-year suspensions, while Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal. @ Getty

Former chairman of the Australia selection committee Rod Marsh feels the toxic culture in Cricket Australia led to the infamous ball-tampering scandal in the Cape Town Test in March this year.

Steve Smith and David Warner were handed one-year suspensions, while Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months for their involvement in the incident which took the cricket fraternity by storm.

Marsh, who served as a selector from 2011 to 2016, and as chairman of the panel from 2014, feels there was a lot of pressure to win the third Test of the series against South Africa in Cape Town.

“It wasn’t around when I was a player [but] it was around when I was a selector,” Marsh told News Corp on Sunday.

“At every meeting it was said we had to get to number one in every format. I felt extremely sorry for Davey Warner. Still the worse thing happened was when Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft going up in front the press at the end of the day’s play. That wasn’t necessary. It caused all the problems.

“Look, I will always support the players and there’s a reason for these things happening. They were under an enormous amount of pressure to win. It’s win, win, win, win, win at all costs, which is not the way the game is meant to be played.

“When it did come to a head, I think Cricket Australia realised they were to blame and the only way they could escape public scrutiny [to a degree, at least] was by imposing these penalties on the three players involved. They would have been delighted to tell David Warner about his punishment, as they would still have been seething over the role he played in the MoU saga the year before – another example of how bad things had become.”

Marsh strongly disagrees with the lengthy bans imposed on the trio, and said that ball-tampering is a commonly-followed practice that even Cricket Australia’s outgoing chief executive James Sutherland would have likely to have done.

“I wrote it in the book; every fast bowler that has picked up a cricket ball, he’s tampered with it, make no mistake about it,” Marsh said.

“I even questioned whether James Sutherland might have picked the seam, a former fast bowler for the University club in Melbourne, who played some matches for Victoria, if he says he hasn’t, I’d ask him the question again.

“That [using sandpaper] wasn’t that smart. No doubt in my mind it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen upon reflection. You can’t get away with that with cameras around.”