SMITH NOT A CHEAT
Australia defend captain after controversy in second Test
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.
Cheating,” said an Indian Express
headline while The Times of India dubbed the episode
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.
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.