Ind vs Aus: Smith wasn't scuffing Pant's guard mark, says Paine

Steve Smith, a former Australia captain, was seen scuffing up Rishabh Pant's guard mark during drinks break in the first session on Monday.

Tim Paine and Steve Smith plot a strategy during Day three of the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.   -  AP

Australian skipper Tim Paine on Tuesday defended star batsman Steve Smith, who was accused of scuffing up the guard mark of Rishabh Pant during the drawn third Test here, asserting that the Indian team would have raked up the issue if any wrong was committed.

Smith, a former Australia captain, was seen scuffing up the batsman's guard during drinks break in the first session on Monday. Pant made a whirlwind 97 to give India a shot at winning the match in pursuit of 407 but it ended in a draw.

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"I have spoken to Steve about this and I know he is really disappointed with the way it has come across. And if you watch Steve Smith play Test cricket, that is something that he does every single game five or six times a day," Paine said in a virtual press conference.

"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 explained.

 

Paine said had Smith changed the guard marks, the Indian team would have taken up the issue.

"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 said.

"But 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 is he going to play," Paine elaborated.

Paine said given how this has been perceived, especially by cricket fans online, there would be a reconsideration.

"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, now that it has come up like it is, again it is something he might need to look at because of the perception of it," stressed Paine.

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After the video emerged, Smith faced criticism on social media by fans and former India opener Virender Sehwag.

"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," reiterated Paine.

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In 2018, Smith was involved in the ball-tampering scandal that took place during the third Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. Subsequently, Smith, along with then vice-captain David Warner, was banned for 12 months from international and domestic cricket.

He was replaced by Paine as the Australian captain.