Even as the teams prepare for Dharamsala, where the fourth Test is to be held, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has made a teasing remark on India captain Virat Kohli.
The off-field drama centred around the India-Australia series just refuses to die down. Despite the cricket being of the highest order, the focus of attention has been stolen, to a great extent, by things taking place outside the field of play.
Sutherland was a recent guest on Adelaide radio station FIVEaa, where he was asked if Kohli should apologize to Australia captain Steve Smith for accusing the Australians of bending the Decision Review System (DRS) during the second Test in Bengaluru.
“I’m not sure he knows how to spell the word (sorry) but perhaps at the end of this long and cut-throat series let’s hope the boys can come together and have a bit of a laugh and reflect on that,” Sutherland quipped.
The incident pertains to Smith’s dismissal in the second innings in Bengaluru, where the Australia captain turned towards the dressing room for advice on a referral after being given out. Smith, on his part, readily accepted his fault and had gone on to describe that moment as a “brain fade”.
Kohli, though, had delivered an explosive post-match press conference. While dismissing Smith’s suggestions, he just about stopped short of calling Australians cheaters.
“I was there and I saw a bit of it and I just couldn’t help,” Sutherland said. “Steven owned up to it straight away. He said that he’d done the wrong thing and to have his integrity called into question in that way I just thought it was not appropriate.
“I felt I just had to make a stance and let people know we are 100 per cent behind him and don’t have any question whatsoever about his integrity,” he added.
Some of the animosity notwithstanding, Sutherland feels that this has been an excellent series. “It is a great contest,” he said. “That Bangalore Test, I think it’s the best Test match I’ve ever seen in terms of the game being on a knife-edge the whole time.
“(On-field banter) is part of the rivalry and it shows just how much it means to the teams. We’re playing against the best team in the world over there and there’s a lot for us to prove, given we haven’t played that well in the subcontinent. That’s one of the things I’m particularly pleased about – the players have adapted, they’ve changed the way they play after a disappointing tour of Sri Lanka (last year, where Australia lost 0-3).”
The fourth Test begins on Saturday (March 25), with the series levelled at 1-1.