A heated second cricket Test between India and Australia raises some ethical issues

For me it has been good to be on the the side for a bit and see how things unfold. It would have been interesting to see how the Australian media would have reacted to me doing that. - Faf du Plessis

What constitutes cheating on the cricket field?

SPITEFUL: Indian captain Virat Kohli and his Australia's Steve Smith have a history of on-field disputes stretching back to the Adelaide Oval in 2014. Picture: Getty Images

SPITEFUL: Indian captain Virat Kohli and his Australia's Steve Smith have a history of on-field disputes stretching back to the Adelaide Oval in 2014. Picture: Getty Images

That question has been hotly debated since the spiteful second Test between Australia and India in Bangalore.

Indian captain Virat Kohli virtually accused his Australian counterpart Steve Smith of cheating following the tense Test match.

Smith was trapped LBW on 28 on day four and looked to the pavilion for guidance on whether to review the verdict when the game was in the balance.

Umpire Nigel Llong intervened and sent Smith on his way but a furious Kohli fronted him over the issue and continued his attack after the match alleging the Australians had been doing the same thing throughout the game.

The laws of the game prohibit players from receiving any information from off the field when deciding whether to review a decision.

Smith blamed the episode on what he called a “brain fade”.

Kohli was insistent that there are lines that must not be crossed on a cricket field.

“I don’t want to mention the word but it falls under that bracket,” he said in a post-match interview.

When pressed if that word was “cheating” Kohli replied, “I didn’t say that, you did.”

Kohli might not have actually uttered the word but no one was left in any doubt that that was exactly what he was accusing the Australian captain of doing.

Was he justified in his accusation?

While there was no proof of systematic cheating by the Australians – as far as the Smith incident went, Kohli was right.

By looking to the dressing room for guidance the Australian captain was cheating.

Any fair-minded cricket fan would have to agree that Smith’s actions, prompted by Peter Handscomb at the other end of the wicket, were “pretty suss” to say the least.

Both knew better. 

Brain fade or not – what Smith did certainly contravened the laws of the game.

However, he escaped any sanction and Kohli got away scott free with his unfounded allegations.

After a thorough review the ICC concluded they could not sustain any charges.

Had charges been laid and contested, the ICC risked costly legal action. By effectively giving both sides a get out of jail free card it raised another question of whether double standards existed in their handling of the issue.

South African skipper Faf du Plessis certainly felt that was the case as he watched on from their series being played in New Zealand.

Du Plessis attacked the sport’s governing body for failing to charge Smith with attempting to circumvent the laws surrounding the decision review system.

The fact that Faf was charged by the ICC over the “mint-gate” ball tampering incident on their Australian tour still rankles obviously – but maybe he has a point.

No Australian or Indian players were charged by match or ICC referees after one of the most bitter Test matches in recent memory with numerous incidents which brought the game into disrepute.

Du Plessis believed that the poor player behaviour by both teams was worse than shining a ball while chewing on a mint.

If he was charged for for applying saliva to a ball while chewing a mint, then why was Smith not charged for contravening the DRS review laws or Kohli for his cheating allegations?

The South African rightly mused: “For me it has been good to be on the the side for a bit and see how things unfold. It would have been interesting to see how the Australian media would have reacted to me doing that.”

Fair point Faf.

Double standards?

Definitely.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop