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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Cricket Australia vs India, Steve Smith cheating scandal, Shane Lee, Sandpaper Gate, cricket news, David Warner, sledging


Former Australian cricketer Shane Lee has claimed that Steve Smith’s behaviour in the Sydney Test is “disturbing” – and says he is “seeing the same signs” in the star batsman as he did in Australian players prior to the 2018 ball tampering scandal.

Speaking on his Afternoon Sport podcast, Lee – a 45-cap ODI representative for Australia and elder brother of fellow Australia quick Brett Lee – expressed his concern over what he saw as “real anger” from Smith.

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Langer backs Paine, rubbishes cheating!

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Cricket Australia vs India 2021, third Test at the SCG, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, cheating, sledging, latest news


Tim Paine has hit back at claims Steve Smith was just shadow batting when appearing to remove India’s batsmen’s guards during the final day of a frustrating draw for Australia at the SCG.

Smith was caught on stump camera walking onto the pitch and shadow batting before bizarrely seeming to scuff up the markings on the crease that they use as a guide for where the stumps are behind them.

Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock joins Tom Morris to wrap up an action-packed SCG Test on the latest FOX Cricket podcast

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Cricket Australia vs India, third Test 2021, score, day two, latest, Marnus Labuschagne, sledging, highlights, video


After his impressive showing with the bat, Marnus Labuschagne had plenty to be chipper about as he walked back into the middle to put India under some pressure late into day two at the SCG.

Hoping to get some early wickets, Labuschagne went to work with some sledging that had the Fox Cricket commentators in stitches in the box.

His exchanges with Shubman Gill were particularly entertaining as the two barbed back and forth with the stump mic picking it all up for everyone at home.

“Who’s your favourite player?” Labuschagne is heard repeatedly asking Gill, to which he replies: “I’ll tell you later.”

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Matthew Hayden reveals cruel story of brutal Shoaib Akhtar sledging


Steve Waugh was the master of “mental disintegration” and he taught Matthew Hayden well judging by this tale from the legendary Aussie opening batsman.

Hayden was no stranger to sledging opposition players from the slips cordon but he was more than a one-line wonder, showing he could commit to the long game to break a rival’s spirit.

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That’s certainly what happened when Australia played Pakistan in Sharjah as the burly Queenslander made it his mission to break fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

Speaking on The Grade Cricketer podcast, Hayden told of how on a stinking hot day — the mercury reached 50C during the 2002 Test in the UAE — he set out to claim a knockout win in his duel with the lightning quick Akhtar, who could hit speeds of 160km/h.

“Someone like Akhtar for example, I’d call him ‘B-grade actor’ for a start, which used to get under his skin a bit,” Hayden said.

“We were playing in Sharjah and it was 58 degrees out in the middle and Akhtar, when we walked out, said, ‘I’m going to kill you today’ in a whole lot more colourful language. And I said, ‘Mate, that’s terrific, you know I’m looking forward to that challenge’ in a lot more colourful language.

“So I said, ‘But here’s the thing, Dumbo. You’ve got 18 balls to do it. You’ve got three overs because you’re going to turn into a marshmallow that’s been left on the plane too long and is going to be dripping down and I’m going to be the one at the other end of those 18 balls that’s going to be mopping it up’.”

And that was before Hayden had even faced a ball.

Former Indian star Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan — more commonly known as Venkat — was umpiring, which Hayden thought he could use to his advantage.

“I go right, how can I get Shoaib looking like an absolute goose and how can I tell Venkat about this? Now India and Pakistan, there’s no love lost there, so I though that’s my point (of leverage),” Hayden said.

“So as Shoaib’s running in to bowl and he’s cursing every profanity under the sun at me, I get to his bowling mark as I’m counting down his balls from one to 18. He gets to his delivery stride and I pull out. He runs at me going, ‘What’s the problem?’

“I said, ‘I’ve got a problem’. I storm up to Venkat and say, ‘I give everything on the game, I deserve everything I get, but within the protocols and etiquette of the game, surely you can’t be running in and abusing someone’.”

RELATED: Steve Smith has unfinished Ashes business

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Umpire Venkat agreed and according to Hayden, gave Akhtar a stern talking to as he walked him back to his mark.

“I think the only way that Shoaib is going to get me out here, is bowled — because Venkat’s definitely not going to give me LBW and I’m not going to get caught behind because this thing (the pitch) was an absolute Bunsen burner. It wasn’t bouncing more than a centimetre,” Hayden told The Grade Cricketer.

“So all I had to do was stand my ground and that was it. He (Akhtar) got through his 18 balls and he collapsed at the end of it. And of course I take the opportunity to get my (fresh pair of) gloves I didn’t need and just go up to Shoaib and said, ‘You want to go off, don’t you?’

“And he says no. And I say, ‘Mate, come on. There’s no heroes in Test cricket. David Boon once said that to me. It’s hot and I know you’re busted. Just go off, I promise I won’t think any worse of you’.

“Anyway, he called old mate on and he’s gone off and he didn’t participate in the rest of the Test match.”

If ever there was the perfect example of a biting sledge being wrapped in fake empathy, the line about not thinking “any worse of you” is it. Just brutal.

Now, there’s a chance Hayden embellished slightly here for effect. He played Pakistan twice in Sharjah during his Test career and Akhtar only played one of those matches. The right-armer bowled 14 overs in that clash and picked up 1/42 as Australia won by an innings and 198 runs (Hayden plundered 119 in his only dig).

Akhtar did come out and bat in Pakistan’s second innings, so he finished the match, but regardless of the finer details that may have become blurred 18 years after the fact, Hayden’s story is still too good not to share.



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