Having just recovered some batting form, Steve Smith once again finds himself at the centre of unsavoury allegations because of apparently incriminating video footage.
No stranger to controversies, this time it is Smith’s ‘quirk’, as the Aussies call it, of shadow batting at the crease, while India were battling to save the Test on Day 5 in Sydney, that has seen him being accused of blurring the line of gamesmanship.
Ever since the controversy broke out, the Aussie team management has been rallying behind Smith. They know that their best batsman should be free of distractions going into the decider in Brisbane.
A day after skipper Tim Paine defended Smith’s actions, coach Justin Langer took a more aggressive tone and said the accusations against Smith were ludicrous.
“I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I have read about Smith. Absolute load of rubbish,” Langer said in a virtual media interaction on Wednesday morning.
“Anyone who suggests for one millisecond he was trying to do something untoward, they are way out of line. On that wicket, it was that flat, it was like concrete, you need 15-inch spikes to make an intent on the crease and he went nowhere near the crease,” added Langer.
Langer’s assumption that Smith went nowhere near the crease is far from true. Stump cameras had caught Smith shadow batting at the crease and also appeared to suggest that the former Aussie captain was trying to scuff up the batsman’s (Rishabh Pant) guard. And it is based on this video footage that several former players and commentators flayed Smith for his act.
Tried all tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant’s batting guard marks from the crease. Par kuch kaam n… https://t.co/HL66KPoVi2
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) 1610349159000
Smith too admitted that he has been left stunned by the developments but justified his actions. “I have been quite shocked and disappointed by the reaction to this. It is 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,” Smith was quoted as saying by an Australian newspaper.
The Aussie knows more than most what transgressing the line on a cricket field means. The 2018 Sandpapergate scandal saw him getting banned from all forms of cricket for a year and also robbed him of the captaincy.
Ever since his comeback, Smith has been trying to build a good-boy image and has let his bat do the talking. There is no doubt this controversy has put him under stress again. A ‘hurt’ Smith can be dangerous, especially when he feels he has been hard done by, so that’s something for the Indians to watch out for.