Former Aussie cricketer Shane Lee has issued a warning to Steve Smith and Cricket Australia, describing his behaviour in the Sydney Test as “disturbing”.
Smith was left upset after being labelled a cheat at the SCG, where his marking of centre ignited debate around the world.
'HOPELESS': Cricket legend savages under-fire Aussie captain
Smith was named man of the match after the drawn Test, having scored a total of 212 runs.
However the former skipper’s actions in the field during a drinks break on day five, when he wandered over to the batting crease and shadow batted, has dominated headlines in India and England.
Smith was spotted appearing to rub out the guard marks made by Indian batsman Rishabh Pant with his foot, with former England player Darren Gough labelling it “plain cheating”.
The former captain’s actions were also slammed by retired international stars Michael Vaughan and Virender Sehwag, who assumed his scratching was an effort to unsettle Pant’s rhythm.
The incident follows Smith’s ban for his role in the Cape Town ball-tampering saga, with critics not missing a chance to pile on ahead of the series-deciding fourth Test in Brisbane from Friday.
According to former international player Lee, he’s “seeing the same signs” in Smith that he saw from Australian players before the ball-tampering scandal.
“I’m really really concerned about some of our behaviour,” Lee said on his Afternoon Sport podcast.
“Steve Smith scored a fantastic hundred in Sydney and the way he reacted afterwards, I thought, there’s a real anger there. It’s disturbing.
“I’m seeing the same signs (as before Sandpapergate). I’m seeing someone like Smith who is getting really, really angry. I’m feeling really worried about this guy.
“I really want Cricket Australia, or someone within that organisation to make sure this guy’s alright. Because he’s a champion batsman, and he’s not a cheat.
“We really need to look after these guys from a mental health perspective.”
Justin Langer lashes out at Smith critics
On Wednesday Aussie coach Justin Langer launched a passionate defence of Smith.
“I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I read about Steve Smith,” he said.
“Absolute load of rubbish; if anyone knows Steve Smith, he's a bit quirky and he does some weird things and we've all laughed about it for the last couple of years.
“Anyone who suggests for one millisecond he was trying to do something untoward, they're way out of line, absolutely out of line.
“That wicket was that flat and it was like concrete; you need 15-inch spikes to make an indent on the crease ... seriously.
"That was absolutely ludicrous, and in the last couple of years since he's been back, he's been exemplary on and off the field.
“He's let his bat do the talking, he was abused like I've never seen anything through England and he just kept smiling and letting his bat do the talking ... give me a break.”
This is very very poor from Steve smith !! https://t.co/UwUz7zrdzx
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) January 11, 2021
Describing the scuffing as a subconscious routine, Langer admitted Smith would probably be more aware of his actions now, while teammate Nathan Lyon also came to his defence.
“I'm really disappointed with the way that everyone has jumped on the back of him; he's played close to 80-odd Test matches and I think he's done that in every Test match he's ever played,” Lyon said.
“Even though we weren't batting in the rest of that Test, he was still thinking about batting and he does it to help me as well.
“He's looking at where I should pitch the ball, what pace I need to bowl on that wicket, so it's all about conversation.”
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