Australia’s former captain Ian Chappell has toned down the ongoing controversy with Steve Smith, terming him as an “absent-minded professor” rather than a villain. Smith was criticized for scuffing up the crease, removing Rishabh Pant’s batting guard during the 5th day’s play in SCG.
Former cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Michael Vaughan, Brad Hogg, and others called out Smith for his actions, with Darren Gough calling his doings “plain cheating”.
However, Chappell found nothing untoward in Smith’s actions and said, “Smith just gets in his own world, he probably didn’t even realize why he might be causing a problem. Whether he did it deliberately or not, you never know, but I think he just lives in his own world and half the time – particularly now that he’s not the captain – sometimes he’s just not aware that he might be doing something that either annoys or offends the opposition.”
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“I don’t think it was deliberate. I think he’s a bit of an absent-minded professor. I think Tim Paine’s said to him that it probably would be a good idea if he avoided doing it in the future,” Chappell added.
Chappell also mentioned that Tim Paine also got a good lesson in the importance of keeping his head cool, after the Australia captain apologized to R Ashwin for his below-the-belt sledging as the Indian batsman battled back pain to save the Test.
Paine was also frustrated on dropping Rishabh Pant twice, as the Indian keeper slammed 97 runs and then also went onto drop Hanuma Vihari in the dying stages of the 5th day, with an injured Ravindra Jadeja and three no.11s to come.
Indian great Sunil Gavaskar even branded Paine “hopeless” and potentially facing the end of his reign.
However, Chappell disagrees with Gavaskar and said, “I think he’s a good captain. Every captain will miss some tricks along the way. But like all players, you’re better off just shutting up and getting on with the job. It was a classic example of why you should do that.”
“To get involved in that – whatever he was trying to with Ashwin, I’m not sure – but to then drop him just a few balls later is a good reason why [you should remain quiet]. It’s a hard enough job being a wicketkeeper. Then throw in being a captain and a wicketkeeper, you don’t need to be talking – you need to be thinking.
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And it’s not just Tim Paine, it’s pretty much all modern players. This business about, ‘It’s part of the game’; well, in my opinion, it’s not part of the game,” he added.
Chappell also said that umpires should have stepped in and Ashwin did a good job by pulling away as Paine chirped.
He said, “I was pleased, actually, when Ashwin pulled away because it’s about time batsmen let the fielding side know they’re not happy with that bulls–t. The other disappointing thing about that was that the umpire didn’t step in. Ashwin made it pretty obvious and at one stage he gestured towards the umpire, sort of saying, ‘I’m not facing up until this bloke shuts up’.”
“Paine was still going on while Ashwin was trying to take his stance. That’s not on. As a batsman, you don’t have to put up with any of that crap but you certainly don’t have to put up with it when you’re in your stance. The umpire should’ve put an end to it a long time before Ashwin gestured,” Chappell said.