Australia go on the defensive over Steve Smith scuffing saga

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Australia have closed ranks around Steve Smith, who is upset over being painted as a villain following the drawn third Test against India at the SCG.

Smith won the man of the match award for his tally of 212 runs in the match, but has come under fire for his actions on the field during a drinks break on the final day.

With the hosts in search of wickets, Smith walked to the batting crease and proceeded to ‘shadow bat’, an action which subsequently drew headlines across the globe.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan termed it “very, very poor”, while some reports likened it to deliberately running on the pitch, which would risk him being charged by the match referee,

There was also a scuffle between Tim Paine and Ravichandran Ashwin during the thrilling finish to the Test, which the Australian captain apologised for, admitting it “wasn’t their proudest day”.

Nothing nefarious, Paine insists

Paine, though, was quick to defend Smith, opting rather to focus on how upset his star batsman is over the reaction to the incident.

“Steve’s quite upset about it,” Paine said, as reported by AAP per the West Australian.

“I know he’s really disappointed with the way it’s come across.

“If you’ve watched Steve Smith play Test cricket, that’s something he does every single game. Five or six times a day … I have seen Steve do it many times in Test matches and Shield games.

“Now that it’s come up … it’s something he might have to look at because of the perception.”

Paine also dismissed claims of gamesmanship, insisting “there’s no way in the world he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that”.

“I’d imagine if he was then the Indian players would have kicked up a bit of a stink at the time,” the keeper said.

“He likes to walk up to where he bats and visualise how he’s going to play … he’s always marking centre.

“You could see him up there, playing a couple of shots as a left-hander, as if (working out) where he wanted Lyno (Nathan Lyon) to pitch the ball.”

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