Australia’s Steve Smith said he was shocked and disappointed by the controversy created by the video where he is seen scuffing up the guard mark of Indian batsman Rishabh Pant on the fifth day of the third Test in Sydney.
A video footage showed Smith scuffing up the batsman’s guard during drinks break in the first session on Monday went viral on social media. Pant made a whirlwind 97 to give India a shot at winning the match in pursuit of 407 but it ended in a memorable draw.
Smith said that he did it out of a conditioned reflex of trying to visualise and do a little shadow batting.
“I have been quite shocked and disappointed by the reaction,” Smith told News Corp.
“It’s something I do in games to visualise where we are bowling, how the batter is playing our bowlers and then out of habit I always mark centre,” Smith added.
After the video emerged, Smith faced criticism on social media by fans, including former India opener Virender Sehwag.
The former Australia captain added that such a controversy along with other incidents took the sheen off India’s remarkable batting performance.
“It’s such a shame that this and other events have taken away from what was a great batting performance by India yesterday,” Smith said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Australia skipper Tim Paine had also defended Smith while asserting that the Indian team would have raked up the issue if any wrong was committed. Paine himself was under fire for sledging Ashwin Ravichandran and apologised for it.