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Australia v India

‘Just a quirky habit’ or ‘plain cheating’? Smith scuffing incident divides opinion

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Steve Smith was seen scuffing the crease during a drinks interval on fifth day of the third India-Australia Test in Sydney. The incident has prompted contrasting reactions in the cricketing world.

Smith was seen rubbing his feet on the batting crease on the fifth morning of the Sydney Test, with Rishabh Pant remarking his guard when he returned to the crease. While his skipper Tim Paine has come out in full support for Smith, it hasn’t been the same elsewhere for the No. 2 ranked Test batsman.

Darren Gough, the former England quick accused Smith of “plain cheating”.

“That was totally out of order,” Gough said speaking on talkSPORT. “People say he’s done nothing wrong, well he has. He’s going onto the pitch and trying to make it worse for the spinners to bowl onto a length.

“Then he’s rubbing out the markers for the batsmen where he puts his bat. It’s plain cheating in my book.

“You have to keep an eye on this. Australia get your act together right now. It’s embarrassing.”

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain labelled the incident as “very very poor” and criticised Tim Paine for the continuous verbal banters that followed later in the day.

David Lloyd, in his column for the Daily Mail labelled Australia’s behaviour on the day as “depressing”, and called Steve Smith’s actions “plain childish”.

“That was plain childish. He’s trying to irritate the batsman,” wrote Lloyd.

“But with all the cameras around these days, and Smith’s history with the sandpaper, you have to reach the conclusion that he can’t have two brain cells to rub together.

“What was he thinking — if he was thinking anything at all?

“If I’d been umpiring that game, I’d have gone straight to the captain to tell him that I’m reporting his player, and that he’s got to take responsibility for the behaviour of his team. Absolutely disgraceful.

“I’ve said it before, but this seems like a good moment to repeat it: cricket has to get serious about ill discipline.”

Virender Sehwag too expressed his take on Australia having “tried all the tricks” only for them to go in vain.

Meanwhile, Mark Taylor, the former Australia captain defended Smith, offering his perspective as a player and a captain trying to help the bowler in operation.

“I can recall doing similar things myself when I was captain and [Shane] Warney was bowling,” Taylor said.

“You stand roughly where the batsman is going to stand, look at where the rough is going to be and work out ‘is your bowler bowling too short, too full’, those sorts of things.

“I don’t think it would be any more than that. I dare say the people who are making these comments, and I don’t know who they are, are making more of a name for themselves rather than actually commentating on the bloody game. I think there’s a few conspiracy theories going on out there.”

Simon Hughes too supported Smith, stating that he was merely trying to mark his own guard as a routine.

Jason Gillepie too felt that there was “no intention to do the wrong thing” by Smith.

As for Sunil Gavaskar, there wasn’t much fuss to be created about the incident.

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