‘Brain fade’ was a term unknown to cricket until Steven Smith set foot on Indian soil a month back. India can be an intimidating place for any visiting team. The crowd can turn hostile getting under the players’ skin. Add to that the slow, rank turners with the sun beating down and what you have are genuinely unwelcoming conditions.
On this tour, we also rediscovered that ‘Delhi Belly’ can indeed send a player back to the dressing room. So, for the Aussies the problems were aplenty. And, for Smith captaining an Aussie side that had not won a Test in India in the last decade was no easy task.
In the first Test in Pune, the Australian captain was on top of his game. His brain was perfectly intact as he out-brained the Indian spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a dustbowl to score a match-winning century.
However, Smith’s brain soon started ‘fading’ when the much-feared defeat stared him in the face in the second Test. Since then, whenever Australia was under pressure, Smith’s brain faded to oblivion. Here are three instances of the Smith brain-fade phenomenon.
1. Dressing-room Referral System: This will be the mother of all brain-fades in cricket for some time to come. When the Aussies were battling it out on the fourth day in Bangalore to chase the Indian total, Smith was caught looking at the Australian dressing room seeking counsel whether to go upstairs to refer his LBW decision. Smith later declared the incident as a moment of brain-fade, where he was left confused in the middle with his brain not functioning.
2. In the last session of the opening day at Ranchi, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha collided with Smith, who was cruising on 97, in an effort to collect the ball which had got lodged between the Aussie skipper’s legs. What ensued was straight out of a wrestling bout that took place in the middle of the cricket pitch.
Saha and Smith were a confused tangle of arms and legs even as Smith lay flat on the ground. Although Smith didn’t see the funny side of it, that did not stop Saha (right on top of him) from claiming a catch, which left Smith in another severe bout of brain-fade.
3. The last instance of Smith’s brain-fade happened on the fifth day of the third Test match when he shouldered arms to Jadeja’s vicious turner that uprooted his off-stump. One look at the stumps and yet again, he faced a moment of freeze. The second time when Smith’s brain faded in the match.