SMITH NOT A CHEAT

Aus­tralia de­fend cap­tain af­ter con­tro­versy in sec­ond Test

New Straits Times - - Sport -

AUS­TRALIA’S and In­dia’s cricket boards sprang to the de­fence of their re­spec­tive cap­tains on Wed­nes­day amid a spi­ralling war of words that soured the af­ter­math of the dra­matic sec­ond Test.

In­dia’s 75-run vic­tory on Tues­day in Ban­ga­lore, af­ter Aus­tralia crashed to 112 all out, has left the four-match se­ries be­tween the world’s top two sides tan­ta­lis­ingly poised at 1-1.

But Wed­nes­day’s head­lines were dom­i­nated by In­dian skip­per Vi­rat Kohli’s ac­cu­sa­tion that Steve Smith abused the de­ci­sion re­view sys­tem (DRS), af­ter he was seen look­ing to the Aus­tralian dress­ing-room while con­sid­er­ing ap­peal­ing against his dis­missal for lbw.

The rules for­bid play­ers to con­sult with any­one off the pitch about whether to seek a re­view from the um­pires, par­tic­u­larly as sup­port staff have ac­cess to tele­vi­sion re­plays in the dress­in­groom. At the post-match press con­fer­ence, Smith — who was quickly waved off the field by the um­pire — ad­mit­ted he had been at fault, but put it down to a one-off “brain-fade.”

But an an­gry Kohli said that rather than be­ing an iso­lated in­ci­dent, “it’s been hap­pen­ing for the last three days.”

Although Kohli stopped short of ac­cus­ing Smith of be­ing a cheat, In­dian news­pa­pers were less diplo­matic.

“Smith Caught

Cheat­ing,” said an In­dian Ex­press

head­line while The Times of In­dia dubbed the episode

“Cheatgate.”

Cricket Aus­tralia’s chief ex­ec­u­tive James Suther­land said any ques­tion­ing of Smith’s in­tegrity was “out­ra­geous.”

“Steve is an out­stand­ing crick­eter and per­son, and role model to many as­pir­ing crick­eters and we have ev­ery faith that there was no ill-in­tent in his ac­tions,” said Suther­land, who was in Ban­ga­lore.

Coach Dar­ren Lehmann also threw his weight be­hind Smith, say­ing the cur­rent crop of tourists was well aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties af­ter pre­vi­ous spats be­tween the two teams.

“He (Kohli) has his opin­ion and we have ours, but at the end of the day we play the game the right way,” Lehmann said on Cricket Aus­tralia’s web­site.

Amid a clam­our among for­mer In­dian play­ers for Smith to be sanc­tioned, the In­dian board (BCCI) said they had raised his be­hav­iour with the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil while launch­ing their own de­fence of Kohli.

“Mr Vi­rat Kohli is a ma­ture and sea­soned crick­eter and his con­duct on the field has been ex­em­plary,” the BCCI said in a state­ment.

“BCCI have re­quested the ICC to take cog­ni­sance of the fact that the Aus­tralian skip­per Mr Steve Smith in his press con­fer­ence ad­mit­ted to a ‘brain fade’.

“BCCI sin­cerely hope that the rest of the matches are played in the true spirit of cricket.”

But late on Wed­nes­day the ICC in a state­ment said “no ac­tion” would be taken against the play­ers and they will bring both the cap­tains to­gether to clear the air ahead of the third Test match.

“No charges have been laid against any player un­der the ICC Code of Con­duct,” ICC said.

The next Test be­gins in Ranchi on Thurs­day.

REUTERS PIC

In­dia’s Vi­rat Kohli (sec­ond from left) speaks to the um­pire as Aus­tralia’s Steven Smith (right) walks off the ground dur­ing their sec­ond Test in Ban­ga­lore on Tues­day.

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