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Categories: - Caught by a thought

Did BCCI drop the ‘Smith’ catch in 2017? Yes, it did …

Has Steve Smith got caught one year too late due to magnanimous BCCI? Well , it seems like that.

Let’s get to the fact first. On day four of Bengaluru test in 2017, Smith, the then Australian captain, was caught on television looking towards dressing room for getting hint whether he should go for third umpire review or not after being given out by on ground umpire. However, while doing so, he got caught both by on field umpire and Indian captain Virat Kohli; and was sent back. Post match Smith admitted the gaffe but called it a brain fade. BCCI was quick to accept the Australian captain’s version and swept the controversy under carpet.

However in doing so, BCCI after initial burst of aggression against Australians subsequently completely ignored – and also ICC - the version of Indian captain about the incident; who was quite categorical post match about the issue. “I saw that happening two times when I was batting out there. I pointed it out to the umpire as well, that it’s happened twice, that I’ve seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation, and that’s why the umpire was at him. When he turned back the umpire knew exactly what was going on, because we observed that, we told match referee also, and the umpires, that they’ve been doing that for the last three days and this has to stop…” said Kohli in press conference. “… if something is going on for three days, then that's not a brain fade, as simple as that”, added Indian captain.

The moot point is Virat not only said that he himself had seen it but also mentioned that both umpires and Match Referee were aware of it; a claim that could have been easily verified by BCCI, ICC and even Cricket Australia which has been found so proactive during the recent planned ball tampering episode after losing face to the world. Even the video could have been reviewed. However no question was asked, no enquiry has been ordered and the game continued business (pun intended) as usual. Indian team swallowed complains, apparently prodded by BCCI; and so did former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar who observed immediately after the incident that he would like to see ICC’s response on the issue! The fact that BCCI runs the cricket coverage in television, where Gavaskar happened to be a star commentator, took care of his finger pointing.

What one also needs to observe is the similarity of the two scenarios and Steve Smith’s clear intention of winning at any cost! Was it just ‘win at any cost’ mentality on 22 yards or being propelled by something else beyond 22 yards , is anybody’s guess. In India, Australia, after winning the first test in 2017 series, came suddenly under pressure after generally dominating first three days in Bengaluru test and Smith knew that his dismissal was key to match , and perhaps series, fate. So came out ‘dressing room referral system’! Similarly in South Africa, Australia after winning first test lost the second one and was under pressure in third test and South Africa was threatening to take the game away. So came out the sandpaper! If a young bloke Peter Handscomb was made to tweet in India that he actually pushed Smith to look towards the dressing room as he did not know the DRS rules (laugh aloud) and Smith did as suggested (even louder laugh). Similarly another young guy, Cameron Bancroft, was made a direct scapegoat this time.

Clearly Mr. Smith, and number of his co- players and even support staffs, has been playing anything but ‘cricket’ in cricket ground for last few years;. It is difficult to believe the non involvement of dressing room in case of repeated referral brain fade; or rest eight cricketers on ground having no clue of ball being ‘prepared’ for reversing early! Well, even a boy playing school cricket will vouch for the opposite. Did ICC and Australia hatch up a plan to sacrifice three cricketers and save Australian cricket? Nobody knows. But one knows for sure that BCCI, ICC and Cricket Australia successfully played the brain fade theory in 2017, and brain washed cricket community in accepting this.

By : Jayanta Basu
Senior Journalist and Honorary Chief Advisor, Media and Sustainability Communication Programme, Tohri


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