The cheating row between India and Australia took a twist on Wednesday as the two boards issued defiant statements defending the behaviour of their players.
India captain Virat Kohli had accused Australia skipper Steve Smith of consulting his dressing room for advice on DRS referrals during the tense second Test at Bangalore, which India won by 75 runs.
Despite Smith admitting to ‘brain fade’ when batting partner Peter Handscomb encouraged him to look towards his team-mates for advice after he was given out lbw, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland leapt to his captain’s defence.
India captain Virat Kohli said Australia’s captain Steve Smith had crossed a line in the 2nd test
‘I find the allegations questioning the integrity of Steve Smith, the Australian team and the dressing-room outrageous,’ said Sutherland.
‘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 cricketers who are proudly representing our country.’
But the Indian board were equally adamant that Kohli was within his rights to suggest that Australia had employed the illegal tactic more than once.
‘Mr Virat Kohli is a mature and seasoned cricketer and his conduct on the field has been exemplary,’ said a BCCI statement.
‘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.
‘BCCI has requested the ICC to take cognizance of the fact that the Australian skipper Mr Steve Smith in his press conference admitted to a ‘brain fade’ at that moment.’
Steve Smith (left) and Virat Kohli shake hands before the start of the first test
And the Indians received support from an unlikely source when Michael Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as captain, questioned Australia’s version of events.
‘If you look at the footage, Peter Handscomb actually suggested that Smith turn around and look to the support staff,’ Clarke told TV channel India Today. ‘If this was a one-off, I don’t think that would have happened.
‘The fact that Handscomb has even thought of asking the Australian skipper to turn around and look to the support staff, I’ve got my concerns.
‘Steve Smith respects the game and if it’s a one-off, then it’s a brain fade. But if Virat is correct, and if Australia are using DRS that way, then it is completely unacceptable and it is not a brain fade.’
The ongoing squabble prompted the ICC to issue a statement of their own, in which they urged both sides to ‘focus their energies on the third Test in Ranchi next week’.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland called Kohli’s comments ‘outrageous’