/ 10 March 2017

‘Gutless’ ICC accused of bias

High emotions: Indian captain Virat Kohli celebrates the dismissal of Australian captain Steve Smith.
High emotions: Indian captain Virat Kohli celebrates the dismissal of Australian captain Steve Smith.

Cricket’s governing body was accused this week of allowing the series between India and Australia to descend into anarchy after Steve Smith and Virat Kohli escaped punishment over the archrivals’ latest bust-up in Bangalore.

Former players slammed the International Cricket Council (ICC) for not issuing sanctions after Indian skipper Kohli accused his counterpart Smith of abusing the decision review system during the second Test.

One Australian newspaper accused the ICC of being “gutless” in its efforts to quell the latest in a series of ugly spats between Test cricket’s top two sides and their captains.

The trigger came on Tuesday, when Smith looked to the Australian dressing room while considering appealing against his dismissal for lbw as Australia were going down to a 75-run defeat. The rules forbid players from consulting anyone off the field about whether to seek a review.

Smith admitted he had been at fault, but put it down to a one-off “brain-fade”. But an angry Kohli said it was far from an isolated incident, suggesting it had been happening for the entire Test.

That prompted a furious response from the Australian board, who said any questioning of Smith’s integrity was “outrageous”. India’s board wanted to bring the captains together for a clear-the-air meeting.

There was particular anger in the Indian camp that Kohli’s conduct had even been called into question, with several former players hinting at bias in the ranks of the ICC.

Former Indian wicketkeeper and selector Saba Karim said: “Why would somebody from the ICC even talk about Virat Kohli? He was not even involved in that incident. Virat Kohli only bought it to the notice of the umpires that this is not the first time it has happened.”

Speaking on Indian television, former captain Sunil Gavaskar said he “would love to see” India emulate Smith’s tactics after the series resumes in Ranchi on March 16 and then see how the ICC responds.

Although the board has been steadfast in its support of Smith, several former Australian players were critical of his conduct, including skippers Steve Waugh and Michael Clarke.

Former fast bowler Merv Hughes said there could be no doubt about Smith’s guilt. “It’s not a twisting of the rules; it’s a breaking of the rules, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

In an article headlined “Gutless ICC”, Australia’s Daily Telegraph said that the ICC had “waved the white flag and virtually allowed anarchy to potentially mar the rest of the series”.

Kohli was fined 50% of his match fee three years ago after flashing a middle finger to the crowd in the Sydney Test. Smith also raised the temperature ahead of the current series by telling his players to “go for it” when asked about his views on sledging. — AFP