Steve Smith captaincy, cheating’ scuffing guard, Tim Paine sledging, future, reaction, Rishabh Pant


The drawn third Test against India showed us Tim Paine isn’t always as cool as we think he is, the tourists have more guts than we realised and Steve Smith can never captain Australia again.

The 31-year-old was shocked and distraught to be caught up in controversy when he was accused of scuffing up Rishabh Pant’s guard on day five at the SCG.

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The English came hard for Smith. Former fast bowler Darren Gough blasted it as “plain cheating”, 2005 Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan labelled it “very poor” and ex-player and coach David Lloyd wrote in a scathing column Smith must not have “two brain cells to rub together”.

The truth is it was a case of Smith being Smith. The eccentric batsman is forever in his own cricketing bubble and was simply shadow batting and marking centre — a quirky habit Paine assured us his teammate performs regularly in every game and Justin Langer said it couldn’t possibly have done any damage to the pitch.

But as questions are asked about how long 36-year-old Paine has left in the top job, especially after dropping three catches and sledging Ravichandran Ashwin, it’s become clear he can’t be replaced by Smith.

Rightly or wrongly, Smith will forever be tainted by his role in the 2018 ball tampering scandal, which saw him banned for a year and prevented from holding any leadership position in Australian cricket until 2020.

While many in the cricket world, including Australian Test players Trent Copeland and Mark Waugh, leapt to Smith’s defence after this latest furore, the overwhelming sentiment from cricket fans on social media was this: Why, after all Smith has been through, would he put himself in a position to be judged for something that, plainly speaking, was just weird?

He did nothing illegal but shadow batting as a left-hander when you don’t even have another innings to play, then scraping the crease line, left Smith open to criticism he could easily have avoided.

RELATED: Real reason ‘filthy’ Tim Paine blew a gasket

RELATED: Smith responds to ‘cheating’ accusations

The vitriol that came his way showed the scars of Sandpapergate run deep, and any tiny misstep such as this proves Smith can’t escape his past. He certainly won’t be able to if he captains again, because his every move will be scrutinised more than ever.

A repeat of the Sydney scandal — and howls of “the sandpaper villain is at it again!” — will always be just one quirky habit away.

There’s another reason Smith might be better-suited to role where his tactical nous in the field is sought out but it’s informal. When youngster Cameron Green was drafted into the ODI squad to make his international debut earlier this summer, the best since Bradman was asked if he’d had much to do with the all-rounder since he arrived in camp.

Smith said he’d barely spoken to the 21-year-old, because he was so focused on hitting balls in the nets and working on his batting.

As an uncapped player, you’d hope senior players would take the time to make you feel welcome and get to know you. It’s certainly something you’d expect from the captain.

But Smith was too ensconced in his batting bubble to be distracted.

That’s fine — Smith is going to make a lot of Aussie cricket fans very happy if he sticks to his demanding training regimen and scores truckloads of runs for the next five years.

He should feel empowered to take whatever steps are necessary to maintain his status as the best batsman in the world — but if he lacks the people skills to befriend newcomers, he can’t be captain at the same time.



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Rishabh Pant tactic, Wriddhiman Saha, cricket news 2021, beding the rules, criticism


Questions are being asked about India’s use of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant as he threatened to steal the New Year’s Test from Australia on Monday.

During India’s first innings at the SCG, Pant was struck in the arm by a short delivery from Australian paceman Pat Cummins.

The 23-year-old was consulted by a medic before continuing through gritted teeth, eventually dismissed by Josh Hazlewood for 36.

However, Pant was taken for scans on Saturday and did not don the gloves for India during Australia’s second innings.

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Substitute wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha – who is widely regarded as a significantly better gloveman – replaced him in the field and claimed four catches, including a superb grab to remove Australian No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne.

Earlier in the Test, Pant dropped two regulation catches to give Australia debutant Will Pucovski two extra lives at the crease.

Although he was unable to perform his duties as a wicketkeeper, Pant was promoted up the order and walked out to bat at No. 5 for India on day five.

The explosive left-hander hammered a quick-fire 97 to bring the tourists back into the contest, which at one stage seemed almost impossible.

It was an amazing knock that left fans in awe of Pant’s spectacular strokeplay on a wearing pitch.

Veteran cricket reporter Peter Lalor was less than impressed with the situation, accusing the Indians of manipulating the laws of the game to field “12 players”.

LIVE BLOG: Australia vs India third Test

READ MORE: Cricket great’s scathing rebuke

“Everyone’s getting a bit anxious, and I’m annoyed,” Lalor said on SEN. “This Rishabh Pant thing, this is just rubbish.

“You can sort of motor along with your eyes closed in cricket a little bit and be unaware of regulations and rules and things.

“How on earth can a bloke be not fit to wicket keep and you just happen to have an even better wicketkeeper waiting in the cupboard?

“So the better wicketkeeper goes out there, does the job, pulls off a catch that I reckon nine times out of 10 Rishabh Pant would have dropped, and then suddenly Rishabh Pant is fit enough to bat.

“They’re basically playing with 12 players. Rubbish.

“If you can hold a bat, you can wear a pair of gloves and fumble a few balls like he does on occasion.

“That’s my point, I find this really ridiculous.”

Channel 9 sports reporter Michael Atkinson agreed: “The way Pant is batting, he should have been made to keep yesterday. That arm doesn’t seem to be causing too much concern.

“Sorry but in Test cricket (or any multi day sporting contest) you don’t just get a day off.”

Channel 7 journalist Andrew McCormack added: “So Rishabh Pant promoted up the order and blasting them to all parts but was unable to take his place behind the stumps for all 87 overs of Australia‘s 2nd innings …

“No bandage on injured arm and not one sign of discomfort. Hmmm.”

Between 1980 and 2017, substitute fielders were not permitted to keep wickets in the case of an injury, but the MCC changed the contentious law four years ago.

Pant was eventually dismissed by Australian tweaker Nathan Lyon in the afternoon session, falling agonisingly short of a third Test century.

He had combined with Indian stalwart Chesteshwar Pujara for a game-changing 148-run partnership.

INDIA’S LARGEST FOURTH-WICKET PARTNERSHIPS IN THE FOURTH INNINGS

RR Pant, CA Pujara – 148 vs AUS (2021)

VS Hazare, RS Modi – 139 vs WI (1949)

DB Vengsarkar, Y Sharma – 122 vs PAK (1979)

GR Viswanath, AL Wadekar – 120* vs AUS (1969)



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Australia vs India: Pant bats, Saha keeps, but Stuart Clark doesn’t see a problem with it



The substitute rule appears to have benefitted India in the third Test, with the tourists getting the best of both worlds: Rishahbh Pant’s explosive batting and Wriddhiman Saha’s superior wicket-keeping.

Pant was hit on the elbow while batting in the first innings, and when India fielded was replaced by sub keeper Saha — who performed flawlessly and took four catches.

In the past, substitute fielders were not able to keep wicket, but that rule was changed in 2017, meaning Saha could take the gloves.

In India’s second innings, Pant (97) was once again fit enough to bat and lead a stirring fightback from India to remain unbeaten on 73 at the lunch break, with some raising concerns that India were taking advantage of the rule.

But ABC Sport commentator Stuart Clark said India were within their rights to use both players.

“He received an external blow. These are always very difficult for a match referee to objectively police,” he said.

“The rule allows him to not field. He sat off, recuperated, got his arm better and now he’s giving us a fine display with the bat.”

Concussion rule open to misuse: Clark

Clark said he was more concerned about the concussion substitute rule being misused.

Since 2019, the ICC has allowed concussed players to be replaced by a like-for-like substitute, who can bat, field and bowl.

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Clark isn’t a fan of the rule.

“If you’re concussed you need to go off. I think it’s ludicrous that it’s different if you have a hamstring tear,” he said.

“I agree that if you’ve got any signs of concussion, you need to be removed. And you need to be protected from yourself. But if the doctor deems you have concussion, you are removed from the field.

“However, you shouldn’t be given a free substitute. I want to protect the players as much as anyone. If the doc makes a decision and the player has to come off the field, that’s it. It will change batting techniques, people will need to learn to face short bowling.

But Clark also mused about a sliding doors moment in Australian cricket; when Marnus Labuschagne was introduced as a concussion sub for Steve Smith in the 2019 Ashes.

“That said, if it wasn’t for the concussion rule we would have never found Marnus Labuschagne,” he laughed.

Listen to ABC Sport’s live coverage of the third Test from the SCG.

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Tim Paine blunders, mocked, babysitting sledge, Rishabh Pant


Tim Paine had some headaches in the opening session of day five of the third Test as India’s batsmen and his own hands hurt Australia.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant blunted the Aussie attack on Monday morning as they tried to stave off defeat following the early loss of captain Ajinkya Rahane.

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Pujara defended resolutely while Pant counterattacked his way to 73 as they guided India to 3/206 at lunch, keeping the tourists’ hopes of a miracle win or draw alive.

Paine will have been ruing his own missed opportunities to break the partnership as he dropped two tough chances off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. The Australian off-spinner loves bowling to left-landers and twice he managed to rip the ball away from Pant and catch the outside edge, only for the ball to hit Paine’s gloves and bounce away.

Having just arrived at the crease, Pant was on three when he prodded forward but was fortunate to get a big enough deflection that the ball clipped the end of Paine’s fingers rather than nestling into the middle of his gloves.

It was the same story after Pant had climbed into Lyon, hitting him for successive sixes as he neared his half century. Shortly after raising his bat another vicious off-break caught the edge — although the deflection wasn’t as great this time — only for the opportunity to once again slip through Paine’s hands.

According to CricViz, it’s the first time since Paine returned to the Test team in 2017 he has dropped two catches in an innings.

They were both tough chances — the first one in particular — but Paine prides himself on his work standing up to the stumps and will have been disappointed he didn’t snaffle at least one of them.

RELATED: India says racism ‘in Australia’s blood’

RELATED: Kerry O’Keeffe’s scathing sledging rebuke

Paine then celebrated gleefully when he thought Pujara had edged Lyon to Steve Smith at first clip, but he was the only one cheering because the captain’s teammates knew the ball had bounced well short.

Commentating for Fox Sports, former England seamer Isa Guha said of Paine: “There’s a lot on his mind at the moment

“He’s dropped a couple of catches

“Managing his bowlers, where is he going to get a wicket from.”

Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra referenced Paine’s famous banter about Pant babysitting his children during India’s last tour of Australia when taking a cheeky jab at the wicketkeeper on Twitter.

“Not sure if Pant will trust Paine with the babysitting duties,” Chopra wrote. “Paine drops Pant off Lyon. Pant hits Lyon out of the attack. PaineFul.”

Pant dropped some simple chances with the gloves in Australia’s first innings and plenty on social media suggested Paine was simply returning the favour.



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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Pant, Pujara mount 100 run partnership as India apply serious pressure



The tourists now need just over 200 runs to win the match with two sessions of play remaining in a tense final day’s at the SCG.

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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Pant blasts Lyon on his way to 50 as India fight back



The star spinner was the man that made the early breakthrough but Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara are now putting the heat back on Australia in a thrilling final day at the SCG.

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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Pujara, Pant dig in after early Lyon breakthrough



Nathan Lyon claimed the crucial early wicket of Ajinkjya Rahane but it’s been all India since. Australia still need seven wickets to win.

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Rishabh Pant Will Pucovski catch in Australia vs India Test match defended by Ian Chappell


Former Aussie Test skipper Ian Chappell has surprisingly sided with Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant on the most controversial moment of day one of the Third Test.

Pant was widely criticised for appearing to claim he caught a top edge off the bat of Will Pucovski before an on-field decision of out was overturned by the video umpire.

Despite a photograph that showed Pant raising the glove with the ball in it off the turf, Chappell declared “I disagree that he claimed it”.

“If you look at the way that he threw the ball away, I thought that was more or less in disgust and it was the guys around him who wouldn’t have had such a good view who were claiming the catch,” Chappell told nine.com.au.

“And bear in mind also the umpire’s soft signal was out. So I disagree that he was claiming the catch, I think he was disappointed that he hadn‘t caught it.”

Asked why Pant hadn’t taken the initiative and informed the on-field umpire he’d grassed the chance, Chappell doubled down.

“I mean yes, he certainly would have had the opportunity to turn around and say ‘I didn’t catch it’,” he said.

“But I think in a situation like that, when a lot of blokes start patting you on the back and telling you you’ve caught it, there can be a moment of hesitation thinking ‘oh gee, did I catch it?’

“So I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Chappell’s view contrasts with the majority of commentary around the incident – including from Pucovski.

“I thought he had claimed it so I just assumed he must have caught it,” Pucovski said. “Maybe I’ve got too much faith in people.”

Shane Warne gave Pant the biggest clip, arguing it would have been obvious to him he’d dropped the young opener for a second time.

“He thought he took it? Well I just can’t believe that because you look at his hands,” Warne said.

“You can’t catch a ball when your hands are basically facing down.

“You watch his hands, he tries but then watch his hands, he sort of bumps the ball onto the ground. You see that? He smothers it, it’s like a try.

“He didn’t actually get his hands underneath so you can’t give that out. How’s he claiming that, how’s he catching that? The only thing underneath the palm of his hands is dirt. So I was a little disappointed with that one.”

Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle called the incident “very tricky” but Warne objected.

“I don’t think it was tricky,” Warne said. “You just can’t catch a ball with your hands in that shape.”

There were plenty of Aussie sports journos sticking the boot in on Twitter too.

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Tim Paine, Gabba boycott, BCCI, Matthew Wade vs Rishabh Pant, cricket news 2021


Reports of the BCCI’s reluctance to travel to Brisbane for the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has caused a “bit of tension” between the two sides, according to Australian captain Tim Paine.

When India last toured Australia in the 2018/19 summer, the series was littered with a handful of feisty encounters, particularly between Paine and Indian skipper Virat Kohli.

However, the first two Tests of this series have been relatively subdued, with the exception of one entertaining confrontation between Australian batsman Matthew Wade and Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant at the MCG.

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Paine said he enjoyed the ongoing battle between Wade and Pant, warning there could be more to come at the SCG this week.

“It’s been unusually tame, the start of this series, I think it’s because both teams are just happy to be back playing Test cricket,” Paine said.

“There has been such a big break and there is a lot of respect between the two teams.

“It’s boiling away. There’s some stuff starting to happen, there’s a bit of chat starting to happen, so I think this Test is going to be fascinating, not just from a cricket point of view.”

As reported by The Australian’s Peter Lalor on Monday, the BCCI does not want to travel to Brisbane if the mentally exhausted players will be confined to rooms in a hard lockdown.

“If you look at it, we were quarantining for 14 days in Dubai before landing in Sydney and doing so for another 14 days,” an Indian official told Cricbuzz.

“That means we were in a hard bubble for nearly a month before coming out. What we don’t want now is to quarantine again at the end of the tour.”

According to Lalor’s report, the SCG will host two Test matches unless the Queensland government grant an exemption or the BCCI back down from their demands.

Paine admitted the reports from “unnamed sources” was starting to take its toll on the Australian squad, who were eager to play the fourth Test at the Gabba.

Australia has not lost a Test match at the venue since 1988.

“There’s a bit of tension starting to boil under the surface with a lot of unnamed sources coming out from their camp saying where they want to play the fourth Test and where they don’t want to go,” Paine said.

“I think it’s starting to grind a few people, so we’ll see how it goes.

READ MORE: What’s happened to Steve Smith?

“When you hear things like that coming, particularly from India who we know hold a lot of power in world cricket, it’s likely that it could happen.

“For us, we just want to be really clear on this Test match, we know the protocols, we know what’s expected of us, and we are going to focus on that this week. Whatever happens next week happens, and again we’ll adapt to it.

“We’re not buying into where the Test is being played. As far as we are aware, it’s at the Gabba.

“I said in a team meeting the other day we couldn’t care less if you rang us up and said it’s in Mumbai tomorrow we’d get on a plane and we’d go and play it. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”

The third Test between Australia and India will commence on Thursday at the SCG, with the first ball scheduled for 11am AEDT.



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Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant expected to play third Test


Shubman Gill boarded a team bus to return to the hotel with several other members of the touring party after training but a spokesman for the Indian side said social distancing requirements were met.

There has been agitation privately within Australian quarters over a perception the Indian team is not following the rules as closely as the hosts.

India players eating at a restaurant in Melbourne, seemingly in breach of their biosecure bubble.Credit:Twitter

India captain Virat Kohli and limited-overs all-rounder Hardik Pandya were pictured at a shop in Sydney in early December during the white-ball leg of the tour.

The Herald saw an Indian player return to the team’s hotel on Sunday carrying a shopping bag. A staff member at a boutique store at Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre told the Herald on Sunday they saw several of the five Indian players under investigation in their store on New Year’s Day. Players were also pictured carrying shopping bags on social media.

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Players are permitted to go shopping as long as the click and collect option is used.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India is expected to take a pragmatic approach should it find the quintet had breached the biosecurity protocols, given three of the five players – Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant – are in India’s best available XI.

The players can still fly to Sydney with the team on Monday but must remain socially distanced.

Even if their rules are found to have been broken, Cricket Australia is not in a position to impose any sanctions on the players as they are not their employees.

There was a precedent in the Big Bash League when Brisbane Heat pair Chris Lynn and Dan Lawrence were able to play the next game despite being found guilty of contravening competition guidelines.

The alleged breach by the Indian five is considered on the low end. CA’s rules have been set partly to protect players from contracting the virus in the community and spreading it within the team, but also to minimise the chances of them becoming a close contact of any person who was to later test positive, which would jeopardise their ability to travel interstate in the event of border closures.

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