Australian coach Justin Langer has launched a passionate defence of under-fire batsman Steve Smith after cameras captured him scuffing the crease as Indian chased victory in the SCG Test.
The former captain's actions were slammed by retired international stars Michael Vaughan and Virenda Sehwag, who assumed his scratching was an effort to remove the guard of an on-song Rishabh Pant.
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.
Langer is having none of it though, delivering an unprompted defence of the 31-year-old on Wednesday.
"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."
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."