Australia skipper Tim Paine has clarified that Steve Smith was not removing Rishabh Pant’s batting guard on Day 5 of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
A video has emerged of a stump vision camera where Smith – Australia’s premier batsman – was seen shadow batting and rubbing the pitch with his shoe spikes, which many purported as him removing Pant’s batting mark.
However, Paine said that it was not as fans perceived it to be on social media and called the act as one of the innocuous “Steve Smith quirks”.
“I have spoken to Steve about this and I know he is really disappointed with the way it has come across,” said Paine said in an impromptu virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“If you watch Steve Smith play Test cricket, that is something that he does every single game five or six times a day. He is always standing in the batting crease, shadow batting, as we know he has got those sort of many Steve Smith quirks, so one of them is he is always marking sand.
“He (Smith) was certainly not changing guard and imagine if he was, then the Indian players would have kicked up a bit of stink (at) that time,” he added.
The Australia captain, who himself copped a lot of criticism for his on-field chatter with Ravichandran Ashwin, said that he has watched Smith do that often during the Sheffield Shield games.
“That is something I have seen Steve doing many a times in Test matches and Shield games that I have played with him. When he is in the field, he likes to sort of walk up to where he bats and visualise how he is going to play,” Paine said.
“Yesterday saw him play a couple of shots as left-hander as to where he wanted Lyono (Nathan Lyon) to pitch the ball.
“There is no way in the world, he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that. That is just one of Smithy’s thing that he does… One of his mannerisms, as I said he does a lot, he was marking sand and he wasn’t by any stretch of imagination trying to change guard or do anything like that,” he added.
The third Test ended in a thrilling draw on Monday as chasing a mammoth target of 407, India reached 334/5 batting for 131 overs before both the teams decided to shake hands on the final day of the match.
The four-match series is currently leveled at 1-1 with the final Test slated to start from Friday at The Gabba in Brisbane.