MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland has defended test captain Steve Smith and his team, labelling comments alluding to potential cheating made by India skipper Virat Kohli during the second test as "outrageous."
Sutherland was at the stadium for the duration of the test which India won by 75 runs. He fully backed Smith.
"I find the allegations questioning the integrity of Steve Smith, the Australian team and the dressing room, outrageous," Sutherland said in a statement on Wednesday. "Steve is an outstanding cricketer and person, and role model to many aspiring cricketers and we have every faith that there was no ill-intent in his actions."
In his post-match media conference on Tuesday, Kohli had accused the Australians of repeatedly looking to the team dressing room for guidance on whether or not to pursue video review procedures — known as DRS — when out in the middle, which is forbidden.
Umesh Yadav trapped Smith LBW in front of the wickets with a delivery that failed to rise. The batsman checked with his partner Peter Handscomb, and then turned around to face the dressing room — appearing to look for guidance on whether to ask for a referral or not.
"I got hit on the pad and looked down to Petey (Handscomb) and he said 'Look up there,' so I turned around and it was a bit of a brain fade on my behalf," Smith said in the post-match press conference. "I was looking at our boys, so shouldn't have done that."
Kohli, who said he previously made the umpires aware of the same tactic being used by Australia, was clearly angry.
"It has to stop because there is a line that you don't cross on the cricket field. Sledging is different," Kohli said. "But I don't want to mention the (particular) word but it falls in that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field."
When a visiting Australian journalist asked if the 'word' was cheating. Kohli replied, "I didn't say that. You did."
Sutherland continued to defend Smith, a prolific batsman with 18 test centuries who averages nearly 60 in test cricket.
"We reject any commentary that suggests our integrity was brought into disrepute or that systemic unfair tactics are used, and stand by Steve and the Australian cricketers who are proudly representing our country," he said.