Smith rejects ball-tampering suggestions

Australia captain dismisses accusations

16:37 January 22, 2018
Australia’s captain and batsman Steve Smith

Sydney: Australian captain Steve Smith has shot down suggestions of ball-tampering after video of him using saliva from the corner of his mouth during Sunday’s one-day loss to England raised eyebrows.

Smith laughed off the reaction, after watching a replay of the video, saying it was his standard technique for helping shine the white ball with no assistance from any foreign substance.

“It was all spit. People said something about lip balm. If you look at my lips they are pretty dry. I certainly didn’t have any of that on,” he told reporters Sunday.

“It is just the way I get the spit into the side of my mouth and get some spit onto the ball. There was nothing in it.”

England last month blasted ball-tampering allegations against them as a “beat-up” after footage of England bowler James Anderson working the ball with his thumbnail drew suspicions during their Ashes Test match in Melbourne.

England coach Trevor Bayliss slammed the accusations after former Australian Test players Shane Warne and Michael Slater suggested it was not allowed.

“It’s a beat-up. As soon as I saw the headlines I raced into the umpires and that was their words: ‘Nothing to worry about, it was a beat-up, absolutely fine’,” Bayliss said at the time.

England sealed the five-match ODI series in Sydney on Sunday when a stunning century from Jos Buttler helped the visitors to a unbeatable 3-0 lead — a remarkable turnaround after Australia had trounced them 4-0 in the Ashes Tests.

Meanwhile, Australia’s world champion one-day team could face a major overhaul after they slumped to a 10th loss in 11 games, according to chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.

Smith’s side were beaten by 16 runs by England on Sunday to give the tourists an unassailable lead in the five-match series.

It is the first home series loss for Australia since 2010 and they have won just 26 of their 50 completed matches since they beat New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground by seven wickets in 2015 to clinch their fifth global title.

“With what’s happened recently we are reviewing how we’re actually playing the game and type of player that’s required in the one-day format,” Hohns said on Monday.

“We haven’t played well in this series, we don’t seem to have been able to put it all together on the one day, there has been something lacking.”

Australia’s struggles in the 50-over format has not gone un-noticed in the cricketing world, with the New Zealand Herald newspaper asking if the side were “the worst world champions?”.

A statistical breakdown of previous world champions’ winning percentages, showed that only the 1983 Indian team had a worse success rate between tournaments.

India won 44 per cent of their games between 1983 and 1987.

Smith’s side have also been far from settled.

Four of the 2015 World Cup winners — captain Michael Clarke, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, pace bowler Mitchell Johnson and all-rounder Shane Watson — have retired from international cricket. Since that victory, selectors have also given 18 players debuts in One Day International.

In an era when run rates are pushed consistently past six an over, Australia have also only scored more than 300 on 13 occasions in 50 completed matches since the World Cup. They lost three of those games.

Hohns said the selectors may need to look at a different type of player for their side, with a focus on hard-hitting middle order players and specialist limited-overs bowlers as they look ahead to the 2019 World Cup in England.

“With the World Cup in 2019 there is a lot of one-day cricket to be played between now and then,” he said. “We will be trying very soon to get together the main nucleus of our squad so they can play together for some time.”