ICC failed in its duty in Smith row

In a clear bid to prevent the hostilities between the two teams from spiralling out of control, the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Cricket Australia have rightly called truce following the controversy surrounding Steve Smith’s dismissal in the second innings of the second Test in Bengaluru earlier this week. In withdrawing its complaint to the ICC seeking action against Smith, the BCCI has paved the way for the rest of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to be played in the right spirit. It all began when the Australian skipper, after he was given out LBW, was caught looking up at his team’s dressing room for guidance on DRS referral, leaving his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli seething. Kohli accused the Australians of systematic manipulation of DRS and claimed that India had already complained about the same to umpires and the match referee. It was a serious charge which the ICC should have investigated threadbare. True to its reputation, however, the parent body decided not take any action leaving the Indian Board red-faced. Playing it safe was almost a dereliction of its duty on the part of the ICC. Agreed that rules with regard to violation of DRS norms don’t specify any penalty other than the denial of a right to referral to a guilty player but a tough censure wasn’t out of place. 

What had also irked the BCCI was match referee Chris Broad’s statement to an Australian daily almost clearing Smith even before the on-field umpires could press charges against him. With several former India internationals, including the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, also tearing into the ICC for refusing to act against Smith’s breach of rule, the BCCI was under pressure to lodge an official complaint, which it did.
But better sense seems to have prevailed upon both the Boards, which have decided to bury the hatchet following a lengthy discussion between BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and his Cricket Australia cou­nterpart James Sutherland. Had the ICC taken action when the controversy broke out, things would not have come to such a pass.From Monkey Gate in 2008 to DRS Gate now, an India-Australia clash has been more than just a game of cricket. Emotions on both sides are high, and the stakes involved are higher. In such circumstances, things often heat up which is fine so long as it adds to the main spectacle rather than becoming the spectacle itself. Cricket should remain the focus, which unfortunately wasn’t the case in Bengaluru. In the din of claims and counters from either camp, an engrossing Test eventually got reduced to a mere sideshow. There is still plenty left in the series, which has all the trappings of becoming a classic, for both teams to put cricket back on the centre stage.

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