Former India captains have called on cricket authorities to investigate Australia skipper Steve Smith amid allegations his team flouted the rules of the game when deciding whether to review decisions during the second test.
Incensed India captain Virat Kohli accused Smith of ‘crossing the line’ on day four of the Bangalore match on Tuesday when he was given out lbw and looked toward the players’ area in the stands when deciding whether to review the verdict using the Decision Review System.
Players are not allowed to seek direction apart from conferring with the non-striker.
Smith said it had been a one-off incident caused by a “brain fade” but Kohli countered that it was not the only time it had happened and that he had complained to the match officials.
Former India captain and broadcaster Sunil Gavaskar called on the International Cricket Council to investigate.
“I don’t think that was in the spirit of the game. We have to see what the ICC and match referee do,” Gavaskar told local broadcaster NDTV.
“I have not seen other earlier incidents but I saw it clearly when Smith did that today, he was clearly gesturing to the dressing room.”
Sourav Ganguly, who captained India from 2000-05, also demanded authorities “take action”.
“The umpires and match referee must ensure this doesn’t happen in future,” he told Indian broadcaster Aaj Tak.
Peter Handscomb, who was at the non-striker’s end during the incident, tweeted after the 75-run defeat that he was to blame.
“I referred smudga (Smith) to look at the box... my fault and was unaware of the rule. Shouldn’t take anything away from what was an amazing game!” he wrote.
Michael Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as captain, said he had concerns about the actions of his former team mate.
“I want to find out from the Australian team if they’re using the DRS in that way, if they are then that is unacceptable,” Clarke told TV station India Today.
“The fact that Peter Handscomb is even thinking about telling the Australian captain to turn around and look to the support staff, I’ve got my concerns.”
The DRS storm capped a tense and sometimes ill-tempered match, with a number of heated verbal exchanges prompting interventions from the umpires to calm players down.
Indian cricket board’s Twitter handle also took a dig at Smith, tweeting footage of the incident and asking “DRS - Dressing room review system?”
Times of India ran a story on the episode with the headline “Cheatgate erupts after Smith’s ‘brain fade’“, while former test batsman VVS Laxman said the Australia captain’s gesture was “totally against the spirit of the game”.
Columnist Suresh Menon’s struck a more measured tone.
“It is unfortunate if the Smith fiasco takes the attention away from a fabulous test,” Menon wrote in Wednesday’s Hindu newspaper.
“There was enough material here for two test matches, with some emotion left over for a third. It was not a perfect game ... but it was something more important, one that emphasised again why the five-day game is special.”
Kohli’s accusations and any action taken by the ICC are bound to reverberate in coming days, with the four-match series locked at 1-1 before the third test in Ranchi next week.
Australian media likened the controversy to the infamous Sydney Cricket Ground test in 2008, which soured relations between the teams for a number of years.
The Anil Kumble-captained Indians threatened to abandon the series after bowler Harbhajan Singh was found guilty of racially abusing Australia’s Andrew Symonds, a conviction that was later overturned.
After Australia won the tense match on day five, Kumble said: “Only one team is playing in the spirit of the game.”