Australia head coach Justin Langer has termed allegations against Steve Smith for wiping out Rishabh Pant's guard marks during the third drawn Test against India as 'absolute load of rubbish'.
Smith was caught on stump camera trying to remove Pant's guard during the fifth day of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as Australia tried hard to get rid of the left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman who went on the counter-attack.
The Pant-led Indian resistance forced the Australian team into some desperate acts, including Smith removing guard and skipper Tim Paine indulging in on-field chatter with Ravichandran Ashwin. However, Langer backed both Smith and Paine.
"I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I read about Steve smith. It's an absolute load of rubbish. If anyone knows Steve Smith -- he is a bit quirky, he does some weird stuff. We have all laughed about it for the last couple of years. I have spoken about it publicly and I have spoken about it privately that he is a bit quirky. What Smith does at the crease, he does at most games," said Langer while speaking to the media during a virtual interaction on Wednesday morning.
"Anyone who suggests for one millisecond he was doing anything untoward, they are way out of line. Absolutely out of line. That wicket was so flat...it was like concrete. You need 15 inch spikes to make an indent on the crease," he added.
Smith, on his part, told News Corp he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ at the allegations made against him.
Langer added that Smith has ensured that his bat does the talking ever since he has returned from the ball-tampering scandal.
"Seriously, I thought that was absolutely ludicrous. In the last couple of years since he's been back, he's been exemplary on and off the field. He has let his bat do the talking, he was abused like anything in England, but he kept smiling and let his bat do the talking. Give me a break."
The former Australia opener, who took over from Darren Lehmann as coach after the ball-tampering scandal and has initiated an image makeover along with Paine, backed the team skipper after the wicketkeeper-batsman's on-field chatter with Ashwin was caught on stump mic and became a subject of controversy in mainstream media as well as social media.
"You have no idea how much faith I have got in Tim Paine. He didn't have his best day, no doubt about that. After three years he has hardly put a hair out of place. He has been outstanding as the Australian captain in everything he does. He had a frustrating day, we've got to cut him some slack surely. But having said that, when you set a standard as high as he does and as we do, we understand that we get criticised when we fall below that. But Tim Paine is an outstanding leader and will continue to be for some time to come. So he has my 100 per cent support," said Langer.
Paine was seen and heard trying to sledge Ravichandran Ashwin, who was involved in a solid, match saving partnership with Hanuma Vihari on Monday.
On one of the occasions, the Australia skipper even claimed "at least my teammates like me, d**k****" during the spat and mocked Ashwin by asking "how many IPL teams wanted you, when you asked every single one of them to have you?"
However, on Tuesday, Paine addressed a press conference and admitted he let pressure get to him during the third Test and it affected his mood, captaincy and performance.
“I’m someone who prides themselves on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection, my leadership wasn’t good enough, I let the pressure of the game get to me. It affected my mood and then from there affected my performance,” he said.
"I said to our players yesterday 'I've had a really poor game as a leader'. I let our group down. I'm human, I want to apologise for the mistakes that I made," he added.
Paine's antics on the final day of the historic draw came a day after he was fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of dissent for appealing to standing umpire Paul Wilson for some "f***ing consistency".
. Read more on Cricket by The Quint.SC Isn’t Right Forum for Farmers’ Protests, Stay Order Proves ThisLatest News: RBI Constitutes Working Group on Digital Lending . Read more on Cricket by The Quint.