Lack of strong leadership in Australian cricket in the years leading upto the ball-tampering incident is what the whole scandal was borne out of, reckons former skipper Ricky Ponting. Ponting believes there was a genuine dearth of experienced heads in the dressing room who would've reminded David Warner, Steve Smith & co of the ethics, and the moral code of conduct they were supposed to uphold.
The intent to rub the ball with a sandpaper in order to alter its condition during the 2018 Cape Town Test against South Africa led to bans of a year each on the then captain Smith and his deputy Warner as Cameron Bancroft, who also was later suspended for nine months, went about illegally tampering the red cherry at their behest.
This incident shocked Australia like nothing ever has as the administrative regime went self-evaluating where it has got things wrong all these years with regards to the players' behaviour and culture of sport in the nation at all levels.
"I was a bit worried that with a lot of the experience going out of our team at the same time (near his own retirement in 2013), that there would be a bit of a void left with experienced players to be able to say 'no' basically," ESPNcricinfo quoted Ponting as saying.
"If I look at where things got at Cape Town I just don't think there were enough people around that team to say 'no' to some of those guys. Things got completely out of control. That's very much an outsider's view on it. I had nothing to do with the team really until the last couple of years around some Twenty20 cricket and the World Cup last year."
Ponting said the void he is stressing over made him delay his departure from top-level cricket. "I probably should have retired three or four years earlier than I did but I was really worried about where the direction of the Australian cricket team was going if I wasn't around. And I wanted to be around to help Warner and Smith and Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson."
"I wanted to help them through that initial phase of their international careers because I knew it wasn't going to be easy for them," the 45-year-old added.
Pointing would've retired with slightly more legendary numbers than he eventually did had he hanged up his boots at the point of relinquishing the captaincy post for Michael Clarke in 2011 as his average steadily dipped nearing towards his last season.
"I was just a little bit worried with the void that was left on the experience side," he said. "Every great team that I played in, whether it be a club team or an Australian cricket team or a state team, there was always a lot of old hard heads around just to make sure when the younger guys came in that they understood what it meant to be playing for each of those teams. And if I had have retired ... I was worried there wasn't going to be enough people to point them in the right direction."
(Inputs from ESPNcricinfo)