Australian batsman Steve Smith has expressed his disappointment over accusations that he tried to gain an unfair advantage for his side by erasing Indian batsman Rishabh Pant’s guard in the batting crease during the high-voltage final day of the Sydney Test on Monday.
Video footage went viral on social media that showed Steve Smith scrubbing the crease with his boots in the first session on the final day of the Sydney Test. Many former cricketers and fans accused the Australian cricketer of cheating; some even called him a serial offender, referring to the 2018 ball-tampering fiasco.
But Steve Smith has asserted that he was marking the centre like he always does. Hurt by the accusations, he feels it is a shame the incident took centre stage rather than India’s herculean efforts in saving the game.
“It’s something I do in games to visualise where we are bowling, how the batter is playing our bowlers, and then out of habit I always mark centre. It’s such a shame that this and other events have taken away from what was a great batting performance by India yesterday,” Steve Smith told News Corp.
Tim Paine defends Steve Smith
Australian captain Tim Paine has come out in defence of the premier batsman, saying that Steve Smith had merely indulged in one of his many idiosyncrasies.
“If you’ve watched Steve Smith play Test cricket, that’s something he does every single game five or six times a day. He’s always standing in the batting crease, shadow batting. As we know, he’s got those many Steve Smith quirks, and one of those is he’s always marking centre,” Paine told reporters before confirming that his teammate wasn’t trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard.
Steve Smith was stripped of the Australian captaincy in March 2018 and banned for a year for his part in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal. He was also banned from captaincy for two years.
Tim Paine added that Steve Smith might need to curb his quirks because of how it could be perceived by others.
Rishabh Pant’s heroic 97 had set a platform for India to go for the chase before Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin battled for over 40 overs to thwart Australia and secure a creditable draw.