Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes Steve Smith acted as an "absent-minded professor" rather than a wilful cheat during the Sydney Test.
Steve Smith was at the centre of criticism after a video footage went viral on social media. The Australian batting star was lambasted by fans and former cricketers, who accused him of scuffing up Rishabh Pant's batting guard.
Former cricketers Virender Sehwag, Michael Vaughan and David Lloyd were critical of the act, while Darren Gough termed Smith's actions as "plain cheating".
As the issue snowballed into a major controversy, Steve Smith expressed his disappointment over the perception. Australian coach Justin Langer had to call up Darren Gough and Michael Vaughan to clear the air.
"Smith just gets in his own world, he probably didn't even realise why he might be causing a problem. Whether he did it deliberately or not, you never know, but I think he just lives in his own world and half the time - particularly now that he's not the captain - sometimes he's just not aware that he might be doing something that either annoys or offends the opposition. I don't think it was deliberate. I think he's a bit of an absent-minded professor."
Ian Chappell advises Steve Smith to stay off the pitch when not batting
Australia captain Tim Paine defended Steve Smith in the scuffing controversy, calling it one of his many quirks.
However, Paine cautioned Smith that it's something he might need to reconsider because of the perception attached to it.
Backing the Australian captain's view, Ian Chappell also advised Steve Smith to stay off the pitch when not batting.
"I think Tim Paine's said to him that it probably would be a good idea if he avoided doing it in future," Ian Chappell added.
Steve Smith was awarded the Player of the Match for scoring 212 runs in the third Test. However, his performance was overshadowed by several controversies, including the scuffing row and Indian players receiving racial abuse from a section of the crowd.