Dear Peter Handscomb and Steven Smith,
We know that Australian players have a rich history of sledging on and off the field but what you guys did on Day 4 was beyond all that. We have seen Ricky Ponting give Sourav Ganguly ‘Out’ from slip cordon and Umpire agreeing with him instantly, instead of referring it to the Third Umpire. We have seen Australian legend Glenn McGrath appealing for a ‘shoulder before wicket’ against Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar and their favourite Umpire Steve Bucknor raise the finger. We have many more incidents imprinted in our minds but this incident was beyond sledging, beyond cheating—the ‘brain fade’ incident was indeed shameful!
But, before we get into the logistics of what happened on Day 4 which was later termed by BCCI as ‘Dressing Room Review System’, let’s take a look at the video footage of the incident:
The second Test was at a critical juncture—it was anybody’s game as Australia were 74 for 3 while chasing a target of 188 on Day 4. Skipper Smith was holding onto the one end and scoring runs at a good rate alongside Handscomb. Umesh Yadav was fired up after taking Shaun Marsh’s wicket (which, by the way, should have been referred by the Australians).
Yadav came charging in as Smith was on strike and bowled a back of the length delivery which did not have proper bounce and kept really low. Smith could not get his bat in time as the ball struck him on the pads. Team India went up straightaway and so did the Umpire Nigel Llong’s index finger.
As a viewer, it was pretty clear that the ball struck him right in front of the wickets. Had Smith reviewed that one instead of playing his little tricks, the review would have been a waste. After being adjudged out, Smith went to his partner Handscomb—which was a normal thing to do—but what happened next, brought shame to both the Australian players.
Handscomb was having a word with Smith and all of a sudden, Smith turned and asked Australia’s support staff back in the pavilion whether to opt for DRS or not? Skipper Virat Kohli immediately saw that happening and interjected him. Cheteshwar Pujara, too came in and tried to block his view.
It was a good thing that the Umpire Nigel Llong noticed the cheating going on the field like an invigilator and asked Smith to leave the field straightaway. Kohli was furious and the Umpires had to calm him down. Later, in the post-match press conference, Kohli revealed that he has been noticing this kind of behaviour for the last three days.
On one hand, there are Australians who are trying to cheat their way out of taking spot-on DRS whereas Kohli is struggling to review decisions and as a result, becoming a pick of the trolls every time he does not get a review right.
Handscomb tried to cover-up for his captain in the post-match press conference that it was his idea to look towards the dressing room for assistance and not his captain’s as he accepted his mistake and tried to take the blame for it. He even wrote a Twitter apology where he admitted that it was too good a game to spoil with the ‘brain fade’ controversy.
I referred smudga to look at the box… my fault and was unaware of the rule. Shouldn’t take anything away from what was an amazing game!
— Peter Handscomb (@phandscomb54) March 7, 2017
Not just Handscomb, but Smith too apologised for the unfortunate incident which he set in motion. He was immediately criticised by former Indian players Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev and even their former captain Michael Clarke, who demanded an action to the incident.
Everyone wants to know that what were Steven Smith and Peter Handscomb thinking. Did they expect that both of them will get away without anyone noticing? If they were, I guess they are well past the ‘brain fade’ moment! India considers cricket as a religion and messing with it isn’t a good idea.