January 19, 2021

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'Shocked' Smith breaks silence on cheat call

3 min read
Steve Smith says he's "shocked and disappointed" by claims that he "cheated" during the third...

Steve Smith says he's "shocked and disappointed" by claims that he "cheated" during the third Test against India.

Smith was seen scratching around the guard area of the crease during a drinks break on day five at the SCG. It was claimed that he was deliberately scuffing up the mark of Indian batsman Rishabh Pant, who retook his guard with the umpire afterwards.

Former England paceman Darren Gough, who branded Smith's actions "plain cheating", also claimed that the Australian star had scuffed the pitch further to aid spin bowling. The basis of that claim was unclear.

Smith, who was shadow batting left-handed before scratching at the crease with his spikes, said that he was simply visualising Pant's batting; something that he does often during breaks in play.

"I have been quite shocked and disappointed by the reaction to this. It's something I do in games to visualise where we are bowling, how the batter is playing our bowlers and then out of habit I always mark centre," Smith told News Corp.

"It's such a shame that this and other events have taken away from what was a great batting performance by India."

Australian captain Tim Paine and former skipper Mark Taylor have been among Smith's defenders, adamant that he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

"I dare say the people who are making these comments, and I don't know who they are, are making more of a name for themselves rather than actually commentating on the bloody game. I think there's a few conspiracy theories going on out there," Taylor told Nine Newspapers.

Former Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag first made the accusation that Smith had scuffed up Pant's guard, which was pounced upon by Gough, Michael Vaughan and David Lloyd in England.

Former England captain Vaughan doubled down on his claim that Smith's actions were "very poor", though he did not back Gough's accusation of cheating.

However, Vaughan seemed to allude to Smith's role in the ball-tampering scandal ("what he has been through"). Smith's captaincy reign was destroyed when he turned a blind eye to Cameron Bancroft and David Warner plotting to use sandpaper on the ball in a 2018 Cape Town Test against South Africa.

https://twitter.com/MichaelVaughan/status/1348925391659032577?s=20https://twitter.com/MichaelVaughan/status/1349093623409872905?s=20

Former England cricketer and long-time commentator Lloyd branded Smith "childish" on Twitter and then unloaded on the Australian batsman in a Daily Mail column, saying that the incident was "absolutely disgraceful".

"Let's start with Steve Smith's decision to rake his size nines on the crease where Rishabh Pant had marked his guard," Lloyd wrote.

"That was plain childish. He's trying to irritate the batsman.

"But with all the cameras around these days, and Smith's history with the sandpaper, you have to reach the conclusion that he can't have two brain cells to rub together.

"What was he thinking – if he was thinking anything at all? If I'd been umpiring that game, I'd have gone straight to the captain to tell him that I'm reporting his player, and that he's got to take responsibility for the behaviour of his team. Absolutely disgraceful."

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