Australian captain Tim Paine has come out in defense of star batsman Steve Smith in a new controversy that erupted in the already heated SCG Test match, which ended in a draw.
During drinks break in midst of India’s fighting second innings to save the match, Steve Smith was caught by the stump camera on the batting end, scuffing up the batting guard of India’s Rishabh Pant. Smith used his spikes to seemingly rub off Pant’s guard and walked off.
Pant returned to the crease to find his guard missing and had to ask the umpire for a new one.
The video was shared on social media and various former cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Michael Vaughan, Brad Hogg, and others called out Smith for doing that, something that seemed highly dubious, especially when Pant was taking the Australian bowlers on and Smith’s actions looked like a tactic to disturb Pant’s concentration.
However, captain Tim Paine feels that wasn’t the case and came to his defense. He said that Smith does it on regular basis and is one of his habits.
“I have spoken to Steve about this and I know he is really disappointed with the way it has come across. And if you watch Steve Smith play Test cricket, that is something that he does every single game five or six times a day,” Paine said in a virtual press conference.
“He is always standing in the batting crease, shadow batting, as we know he has got those sort of many Steve Smith quirks, so one of them is he is always marking sand,” he explained.
Paine further claimed that had Steve Smith changed the guard marks, the Indian team would have taken up the issue with officials.
AUS v IND 2020-21: “Once a cheat, always a cheat” – Fans slam Smith for wiping off Pant’s batting guard
“He (Smith) was certainly not changing guard and imagine if he was, then the Indian players would have kicked up a bit of stink (at) that time. But that is something I have seen Steve doing many a time in Test matches and Shield games that I have played with him, when he is in the field, he likes to sort of walk up to where he bats and visualize how is he going to play,” Paine elaborated.
However, he conceded that there would be a reconsideration, after how it was perceived by the fans and cricket experts online.
“There is no way in the world, he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that. That is just one of Smithy’s things that he does, now that it has come up like it is, again it is something he might need to look at because of the perception of it,” stressed Paine.
Smith has been on the wrong side of the cricket laws multiple times with one instance being him asking for help from the Australian dressing room for calling for a DRS review during a 2017 Test on the tour of India.
However, Smith’s biggest controversy proved to be the ball-tampering scandal of the Cape Town Test in 2018 against South Africa, where Australian player Cameron Bancroft was caught using sandpaper to change the condition of the ball.
After investigation from both cricket boards, it was revealed that Bancroft did it at the behest of then vice-captain David Warner and then captain Steve Smith was found guilty of not condoning it. Subsequently, Smith, along with then vice-captain David Warner, was banned for 12 months from international and domestic cricket.