New Delhi - Cricket's governing body was accused on Thursday
of allowing the series between India and Australia to descend into anarchy
after Steve Smith and Virat Kohli escaped punishment over the arch-rivals'
Ex-players slammed the International Cricket Council for not
issuing sanctions after Indian skipper Kohli accused his counterpart Smith of
abusing the decision review system (DRS) during the second Test.
One Australian newspaper accused the ICC of being
"gutless" in its efforts to quell what is the latest in a series of
ugly spats between Test cricket's top two sides and their captains.
The trigger for the latest row came on Tuesday, when Smith
was seen looking 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 with anyone off the
field about whether to seek a review from the umpires.
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 that any questioning of Smith's integrity was "outrageous".
India's board asked the ICC to "take cognizance"
of Smith's admission but instead of punishing either captain, the organisation
said it would bring them 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 ex-selector Saba Karim said
the ICC's statement was "bizarre".
"Why would somebody from the ICC even talk about Virat
Kohli?" Karim said.
"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
Former Indian opener Chetan Chauhan was similarly scathing.
"I am really surprised with the decision of the ICC and
I am sure lot of people will be upset about it as Steve Smith's gesture was
absolutely clear," Chauhan said.
"There is no doubt that he was asking for help from the
support staff in the dressing room, which is against the rules and against the
spirit of the game laid down by the ICC, and action should have been
Speaking on Indian television, former captain Sunil Gavaskar
said that 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.
"If something similar is done by an Indian player,
looking up to the dressing-room... he should not be pulled up at all,"
Gavaskar told NDTV.
"It can't be that some countries get favourable
treatment and some countries do not get favourable treatment."
While the board has been steadfast in its support of Smith,
several former Australian players were critical of his conduct including
ex-skippers Steve Waugh and Michael Clarke.
Former fast bowler Merv Hughes told an Australian radio
station Thursday that 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 told Adelaide's Sportsday
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".
The Sydney Morning Herald said relations between the two
teams were now "at their lowest point since the 'Monkeygate' scandal"
in 2008, when Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of calling Andrew
Symonds a monkey.
Kohli himself was fined 50 percent of his match fee three
years ago for bringing the game into disrepute after flashing the 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.