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Steve Smith looks at the dressing room for some help
Steve Smith looks at the dressing room for some help

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Thursday (March 9), filed an official complaint with the ICC against Steve Smith in relation to the DRS controversy that erupted in the aftermath of the Bengaluru Test. BCCI’s action comes in the wake of the governing body of the sport opting against levying any charges against players involved in the DRS fracas Smith and Peter Handscomb under its Code of Conduct.

While no sanctions were made at the end of the feisty encounter, BCCI, in a media release, had requested ICC to take into cognizance the fact that Smith admitted to his ‘brain fade’ when he looked over to the dressing room for an opinion on a referral after he had been adjudged out leg before wicket in a pivotal moment of the Test on Day 4. Smith had been nudged into seeking consultation by his nonstriker, Handscomb.

A clearly agitated Virat Kohli lambasted his counterpart in an explosive press conference at the end of India’s 75-run victory, refusing to buy Smith’s brain fade explanation and insinuating that the Australians had transgressed the DRS rule on two other instances while fielding.

The controversy subsequently spilled over beyond the Test with the cricket boards of both Australia and India issuing media releases in support of their respective captains. Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland termed Kohli’s allegations “outrageous” before BCCI shot back, stating that it stood steadfastly firm in defence of its captain’s comments.

A day after the nerve-wracking Test between India and Australia ended, the ICC stated in an official statement that no charges have been laid against any player under its Code of Conduct.

In a post-match press conference, Virat Kohli seemed to have accused Steve Smith of cheating for turning towards his dressing room before going for a review on his dismissal. While Smith had called his act as a ‘brain fade’, Kohli accused his opposite of number of indulging in it several times over the course of the Test.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “We have just witnessed a magnificent game of Test cricket where players from both teams gave their all and emotions were running high during and after the match. “We would encourage both teams to focus their energies on the third Test in Ranchi next week. Ahead of that, the match referee will bring both Captains together to remind them of their responsibilities to the game.”

But James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief, labelled the cheating allegations made against Steve Smith and the Australian team with regards to the Decision Review System during the Bangalore Test as “outrageous”.

According to the law, a batsman can only consult his partner before taking the DRS and, at no time, can seek help from the umpires or the team to make a decision. “I find the allegations questioning the integrity of Steve Smith, the Australian Team and the dressing room, outrageous,” Sutherland said on Wednesday (March 8). “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.

After the conclusion of the Test that Australia lost by 75 runs, Smith termed the incident as a “brain fade” on his part and acknowledged that he shouldn’t have done it. However, Kohli expressed his displeasure and brushed aside his Australian counterpart’s description of the incident saying:

Kohli also just stopped short of labelling the Australians as cheats, saying, “Sledging and playing against the opponents is different, but… I don’t want to mention the word, but it falls in that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field.”

In response, Darren Lehmann, Australia’s head coach, played down the allegation saying that Australia play their game in the “right way”. “Very surprised to hear that, but it’s their opinion,” he said. “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 changed the way we want to play, we’ve obviously changed the side and we’re a younger side so I’m pretty pleased with the way we do things now. We’ve never done any of that, so we’ll just get on with the next game.”

After the high octane drama, and with the series level the series 1-1, the two teams now have a nine-day break ahead of the third Test in Ranchi that begins on March 16.

However, David Saker, Australia’s fast bowling coach, has said they were surprised when Steve Smith looked towards the dressing room after being trapped lbw in the second innings of the second Test. He was also quick to point out that it was “absurd” to suggest that Australia intentionally employed a strategy to seek inputs from the dressing room before going for the Decision Review System (DRS).

After a brief discussion, both batsmen turned towards the dressing room with Smith making a hand gesture so as to seek help in making the decision. Virat Kohli and Co. were fuming at the same as Nigel Llong, the onfield umpire, was quick to spot the intention and was on the Australian skipper’s case immediately. According to the law, a batsman can only consult his partner before taking the DRS and, at no time, can seek help from the umpires or the team to make a decision.

“It’s pretty much absurd,” Saker said about the incident on Thursday (March 9). “I think when actually Steven Smith did look up, we were more horrified than anyone else because we had never seen that before. We haven’t got any elaborate sign system, and when he did do that, it was quite a surprise to us. But that’s never happened to me anywhere in my time in cricket.”

After the conclusion of the Test that Australia lost by 75 runs, Smith termed the incident as a “brain fade” on his part and acknowledged that he shouldn’t have done it. However, Kohli expressed his displeasure and brushed aside his Australian counterpart’s description of the incident saying:

The Aussie captain is under fire from BCCI and Kohl
The Aussie captain is under fire from BCCI and Kohl

“Honestly, if someone makes a mistake while batting, for me personally, that’s a brain fade. The way I left the ball in Pune, you know, getting hit on the off-stump. That was a brainfade. But if something is going on for three days, then that’s not a brainfade, as simple as that.

“I saw that two times happening when I was batting out there. I pointed it out to the umpire as well, that it has happened twice, that I’ve seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation, and that’s why the umpire was at him. When he turned back, the umpire knew exactly what was going on, because we observed that, we told match referee also, and the umpires, that they’ve been doing that for the last three days and this has to stop, because there’s a line that you don’t cross on the cricket field.”

Saker acknowledged Kohli’s quotes in the post-match press conference were really offensive before adding that the International Cricket Council should reduce the time given to the teams in order to prevent any such thing from happening. “It’s really offensive,” he pointed out. “Probably the worst thing you can be called is cheats. That’s an offensive thing and we have never done something like that and never will. We will rub it off, get on to Ranchi, and try and win there.

“I think the ICC might be looking at something, maybe shortening the time the captains are given. Because there is a lot of time, that could actually happen if you wanted to do it. I’ve never seen it and I’ve never heard anybody ever talk about it until yesterday, so as I said, it’s nothing that we’ve ever done and I’ve never heard of.”