What’s the story?
Things haven’t been exactly rosy between Team India and their opposite camp after a riveting contest at Bengaluru saw the hosts stage a remarkable comeback on the fourth day to level the series. A war of words ensued between the two bases, with Virat Kohli accusing Steve Smith of crossing the lines while using the DRS after the latter’s dismissal in the final innings.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has come out with a strong statement, deeming Kohli’s remarks against Steve Smith as “outrageous”, adding fuel to the already simmering tension between the two sides.
“I find the allegations questioning the integrity of Steve Smith, the Australian team and the dressing room, outrageous”, Sutherland was quoted as saying in a statement.
In case you didn’t know…
During Australia’s chase of 187 on the fourth day of the second Test, Smith was ruled out LBW by the on-field umpires, but contemplated on taking a referral, reaching out to Peter Handscomb at the other end for help. Handscomb, in turn, asked Smith to look at the box and seek hints from the dressing room, something which did not go down well with Kohli.
The Indian captain, who was quick to catch Smith’s act, informed the on-field umpires who intervened.
The heart of the matter
Despite Steve Smith describing his actions as ‘brain-fade’, Virat Kohli accused the Australians of “crossing the lines you don’t cross on a cricketing field”, claiming that the incident wasn’t one-off, and that he had previously noticed it happening as well.
James Sutherland, however, stood by his player, describing Smith as an outstanding cricketer and a role-model to several budding cricketers, adding that “we have every faith that there was no ill-intent in his actions”.
He also said that he refused to acknowledge the claims that their integrity was brought into disrepute, or that any unfair methods were used.
The Bengaluru Test now in their kitty, the Indian team will now move to Ranchi, where they will face off the tourists with their reputation restored. However, things are bound to get spiced up going into the third Test, now that the series is level, and the fact that the mind games have begun, a regular feature in India-Australia encounters.
According to the rules, a batsman can only consult his batting partner, and not the umpires and/or the team for a referral. What Smith did was against the regulations, and being the captain of a national side, he surely must be well versed with the principles that guide the sport. Branding his own actions as ‘brain fade’ clearly doesn’t reflect well upon the individual’s decision making abilities.
Cricket Australia’s statement is just an act of defence to safeguard the reputation of their captain and the team, and is an expected response on what doesn’t seem to be a closed chapter between the two sides.