BENGALURU (Reuters) - 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 towards 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.”
The Indian board issued a statement throwing its weight behind Kohli later on Wednesday, describing the home captain as a “mature and seasoned cricketer” whose “conduct on the field has been exemplary”.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), after due deliberation and seeing the video replays of the episode, steadfastly stands with the Indian cricket team and its captain Mr Virat Kohli,” the board said.
“Mr Kohli’s action was supported by ICC Elite Panel Umpire Mr Nigel Llong who rushed in to dissuade Mr Steve Smith from taking recourse to inappropriate assistance.”
The board hoped the remainder of the series would be played in the true spirit of cricket.
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.
The Times of India newspaper ran a story on the episode with the headline “Cheatgate erupts after Smith’s ‘brain fade’”.
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 bowler Harbhajan Singh was found guilty of racially abusing Australia’s Andrew Symonds, a conviction that was later overturned.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne and Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien