Australia captain Tim Paine has insisted Steve Smith did not deliberately scuff up the crease during the last day of the 3rd Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday.
Video from the stump cam of Smith dragging his boot throughout the crease on a tense final day of the match went viral on social media, and some former players accused him of gamesmanship at best, deceitful at worst.
Paine said Smith, who was removed from the Australian captaincy and banned for a year in 2018 for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, had been disturbed by the accusations.
“I know he’s really disappointed with the way it’s come across,” Paine informed reporters on Tuesday. “If you’ve watched Steve Smith play Test cricket, that’s something that he does every single game five or 6 times a day.
“He’s always standing in the batting crease shadow batting. As we know, he’s got those many Steve Smith quirks, and one of those is he’s always marking the center.”
“He was certainly not changing [Rishabh Pant’s ] guard, and if he was, that’s something that the Indians would have kicked up a bit stink about at the time.”
"There's no way in the world he was trying to change Rishabh Pant's guard"
— i sport (@iPaperSport) January 12, 2021
Paine said Smith might need to give up the practice offered how it was interpreted.
India managed a remarkable draw in a tense 3rd Test in Sydney that left the series level at 1-1 heading into the last and 4th Test in Brisbane, starting on January 15.
Paine apologized for his own actions during the last day, stating his sledging of Ravichandran Ashwin disappointed his team’s standards.
"Can't wait to get you to the Gabba"
"Can't wait to get you to India, it will be your last series"
Tim Paine had plenty to say to Ravi Ashwin behind the sticks, but the Indian batsman wasn't fazed 👊
He even watched the Aussie keeper shell one the next over 👀 pic.twitter.com/pmUNhMVDIe
— Cricket on BT Sport (@btsportcricket) January 11, 2021
“I’m human. I want to apologize for the mistakes I made yesterday; we’ve set really high standards over the last 18 months and yesterday was a bit of a blip on the radar.”
The Test was also spoiled by allegations members of the SCG crowd racially abused India.
Cricket Australia apologized to the Indian team on Sunday, and investigations are underway with strong action guaranteed versus the perpetrators.