Australian cricketer Steve Smith has been roundly criticised by greats of the game after an act of gamesmanship in the fourth Test against India rubbed many the wrong way.
India forced a draw on the final day of the Test, batting out the draw thanks to a near-century from Rishabh Pant (97) and excellent defensive batting from the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin.
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Smith had earlier put Australia in a commanding position, thanks to a towering first innings century which was followed up by 81 runs in the second innings.
Despite the home side being well on top, by day five the Indian resistance was proving to be frustrating for everyone - including Smith.
The enigmatic batsman went to the crease and shadow-batted for a few moments during a break in play on day five, before intentionally scuffing the batsman’s markings.
‘Plain cheating’: The cricket world has turned on Steve Smith after his petty act caught on camera pic.twitter.com/2w9BqcuSYs
— Andrew Backhouse (@Andytwit123) January 11, 2021
This forced Pant to waste a few moments to have the umpire help him take his guard again, prompting many former greats of the game to question just what smith was doing.
Former England star Darren Gough said it was ‘plain cheating’.
“You’ve got Steve Smith, who showed us all these tears and sorrow just a few years ago when he got done for sandpaper on the ball,” Gough told talkSPORT radio.
“Well now during a break in play between overs he’s dancing around and scuffing up the pitch and rubbing out the marks with his spikes, the batsman’s marker.
“That was totally out of order.
“People say he’s done nothing wrong — well he has! He’s going onto the pitch ... and rubbing out the markers the batsman has put on to (signal) where he puts his bat.
“It’s plain cheating in my book.”
Steve Smith criticised over controversial tactic
Gough wasn’t the only former player to question Smith’s unconventional tactic, with Indian great Virender Sehwag also highlighting the dubious tactic.
“Tried all the tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant’s guard marks from the crease,” he pointed out on Twitter.
Former England player and coach David Lloyd described it as ‘ridiculous behaviour’, while former Australian spinner Brad Hogg was also unimpressed.
“Batsman’s area. Not his space to mark!” Hogg posted.
Unreal isn’t it ? Ridiculous behaviour .... https://t.co/moNcIZLxRD
— David 'Bumble' Lloyd (@BumbleCricket) January 11, 2021
Just bizarre. Why would you even bother? https://t.co/a9YcC79WkR
— Lawrence Booth (@the_topspin) January 11, 2021
It's the cheapness of it that's so hard to grasp. People have compared you to Bradman, you've been banned in a massive sandpapering scandal, but you see a batting mark and think....I'm going to scrub that out. So odd.
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) January 11, 2021
With the odds stacked against them, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin batted through 256 balls to force a draw in the third Test on Monday as India finished 5-334.
It left India's score short of the 407 required for victory, but their 131-over effort to survive felt like a great victory.
The draw capped one of India's most resilient efforts, keeping the series level at 1-1 with the final Test at the Gabba from Friday.
India looked flat on day four, amid claims of racial abuse from the crowd and uncertainty over the future of their tour.
On the field, Vihari battled through the final session with a hamstring injury, while Ravindra Jadeja was prepared to walk out to bat with a dislocated thumb.
Australia were at times their own worst enemy, with captain Tim Paine dropping three catches, including one diving in front of David Warner from Vihari with 8.1 overs to go.
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