Steve Smith’s latest controversial act of allegedly scuffing the guard of India’s Rishabh Pant has reminded people of his image of a cheater, thanks to his role in the infamous sandpaper gate in the ball-tampering scandal in 2018 in South Africa.
This has left former Australian cricketer and 1999 World Cup winner Shane Lee really concerned about Smith's mental state and behavior.
Smith, Australia’s batting mainstay, has found himself in hot water after a shocking incident was caught on the stump camera during Day 5 of the third Test at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) – where the ace batsman was caught scuffing guard marks at Pant’s crease purposely.
The right-hander’s unsportsmanlike behavior was seen during the drinks break at SCG when he was spotted doing shadow batting on the pitch and then scruffed up the Rishabh Pant's batting guard.
The Australians were desperate to win the game but the young wicketkeeper batsman’s class helped India draw the third Test on Monday.
Following his alleged act, fans and some cricketers burst out at Smith and now Lee has reacted to the controversy saying Smith isn’t trying to cheat but is looking really angry lately – similar signs before the ball-tampering scandal happened two years back.
The former all-rounder further said he is really worried about Smith’s angry behavior while urging Cricket Australia to look after the cricketer from a mental health perspective unless the effects like “Sandpaper Gate” could emerge again.
Lee told Fox Cricket: “He was not trying to cheat, but he should not be on the wicket. I am really really concerned about some of our behavior. Steve Smith scored a fantastic hundred in Sydney and the way he reacted afterward, I thought, there is real anger there. It is disturbing.”
He further added, “You wind forward to this Test: I am seeing the same signs as before Sandpapergate. I am seeing someone like Smith who is getting really, really angry.
I think that Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft should have been punished for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in the 2018 Cape Town Test. It was appalling. But the way they were handled by Cricket Australia - they were given no support.”
Lee signed off, “I am feeling really worried about this guy (Smith). I really want Cricket Australia or someone within that organization to make sure this guy's alright. Because he's a champion batsman, and he's not a cheat. We really need to look after these guys from a mental health perspective.”
(With ANI Inputs)