An extended version of match footage from the drinks break seems to suggest that Steve Smith had nothing to do with the guard marks controversy. The latest clip shows the ground staff had already swept the pitch, thereby removing Rishabh Pant’s batting guard before Steve Smith came to the crease.
Cricket Australia uploaded the extended match footage, which is from the world feed provided by Fox Sports. The clip shows the SCG ground staff sweep the pitch with a stiff broom and repaint the popping crease as the players came back to the field. It showed that Rishabh Pant’s guard marks were removed much before Steve Smith came to that side of the pitch to shadow bat.
The controversy had earlier erupted after a shorter clip showing Steve Smith shadow batting at the crease, in the first session on Day 5, went viral online. Many suggested Steve Smith was trying to tamper with Rishabh Pant’s guard marks by scuffing the pitch before he moved back to the slips.
As Rishabh Pant asked for a fresh guard before the start of play, several former cricketers slammed Steve Smith for tampering with the in-form batsman’s guard marks during the game.
The latest footage adds a new twist to the controversy, with the extended footage strengthening Steve Smith's claims of innocence. The video shows the raw version of the match footage from between the sessions, and not the shorter clip that was controversially referred to while blaming Smith.
The Australian camp has backed Steve Smith
While former cricketers Michael Vaughan and Virender Sehwag criticised Steve Smith, members from the Australian camp have come out in his support.
Tim Paine suggested that Smith was just shadow batting, which is something he does every single game. He admitted that Steve Smith has done the same thing multiple times over his Test career, as he likes going to the crease to visualize how he’s going to play.
Nathan Lyon also offered similar comments on Wednesday, as he backed Steve Smith. The spinner revealed Steve Smith shadow bats at the crease to help the spinner understand which areas to bowl at. More of the same came from coach Justin Langer, who criticised Michael Vaughan for blaming Steve Smith after the clip came to light.
Steve Smith himself opened up on the controversy, revealing his side of the story while speaking to News Corp.
“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."Published 13 Jan 2021, 15:34 IST