Bengaluru: Australia captain Steve Smith is a “role model” and allegations that he and his team flouted the rules when deciding whether to review decisions during the second Test against India are “outrageous”, Cricket Australia (CA) said on Wednesday.
Incensed India captain Virat Kohli accused Smith of ‘crossing the line’ on Tuesday when he was given out lbw but looked toward the players’ area in the Bengaluru stands as he mulled over using the Decision Review System.
Players are not allowed to seek direction apart from conferring with the non-striker.
Smith said it had been a one-off incident caused by a “brain fade” but Kohli countered that it was not the first time it had happened and that he had complained to the match officials.
“I find the allegations questioning the integrity of Steve Smith, the Australian team and the dressing room, outrageous,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said in a statement.
“Steve is an outstanding cricketer and person, and role model to many aspiring cricketers and we have every faith that there was no ill-intent in his actions.
“We reject any commentary that suggests our integrity was brought into disrepute or that systemic unfair tactics are used, and stand by Steve and the Australian cricketers who are proudly representing our country,” he added.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann denied his team had repeatedly sought dressing room assistance on reviews.
“Never, ever, ever,” Lehmann said. “Very surprised to hear that, but it’s their opinion.”
“He (Kohli) has his opinion and we have ours, but at the end of the day, we play the game the right way… We’ve never done any of that, so we’ll just get on with the next game.”
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to investigate, while Sourav Ganguly, who captained India from 2000-05, also demanded the authorities “take action”.
Peter Handscomb, who was at the non-striker’s end during the incident, tweeted after the 75-run defeat that he was to blame.
“I referred smudga (Smith) to look at the box… my fault and was unaware of the rule. Shouldn’t take anything away from what was an amazing game!” he wrote.
Michael Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as captain, said he had concerns about the actions of his former teammate.
“I want to find out from the Australian team if they’re using the DRS in that way, if they are then that is unacceptable,” Clarke said.
Indian cricket board’s Twitter handle also took a dig at Smith, tweeting footage of the incident and asking “DRS – Dressing room review system?”
Kohli’s accusations and any action taken by the ICC are bound to reverberate in coming days, with the four-match series locked at 1-1 before the third Test in Ranchi next week.
Australian media likened the controversy to the infamous Sydney Cricket Ground Test in 2008, which soured relations between the teams for a number of years.
The Anil Kumble-captained Indians threatened to abandon the series after Harbhajan Singh was found guilty of racially abusing Australia’s Andrew Symonds, a conviction that was later overturned.
After Australia won the tense match on day five, Kumble said: “Only one team is playing in the spirit of the game.”