Steve Smith’s reaction to his run out on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka was not acceptable, according to former captain Ian Chappell.
Smith was dismissed after a calamitous mix-up with Usman Khawaja late on day one, and made his displeasure known immediately.
The furious right-hander shook his head, gesticulated in Khawaja’s direction and muttered under his breath as he made his way from the field, covered in dirt from a futile attempt to regain his ground.
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He was later seen on the dressing room balcony, and if looks could kill, Khawaja would be dead and buried.
According to Chappell, such a reaction from a senior player is inappropriate.
“You’ve got to look at it from the point of view of Smith being a former captain, and I don’t think he should be showing his emotions like that,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.
“You can do it behind closed doors, but on the field he shouldn’t be doing it.
“In a sense I’m not surprised, because Smith doesn’t keep his emotions to himself, which is just the way he is, he’s known nothing but cricket really in his upbringing, which is not a good thing.
“A captain, or vice-captain has to keep his emotions even.”
Part of Smith’s frustration may stem from what he perceives as an opportunity lost, given he’s made just one Test century since the 2019 Ashes.
He scored just six runs on Wednesday, dropping his average to 38.62 since that series against England, as opposed to the 64.56 he averaged prior to then.
“Nobody is happy about getting run out, regardless of whether it’s your fault or not,” Chappell said.
“When it’s not your fault you’re even more upset, but it’s something that should unfold in the dressing room.”
“You shouldn’t have the run out in the first place, but the reality is it’s going to happen from time to time, so you’ve got to deal with it.”
With 13 wickets falling on the opening day, the match is moving quickly, and Australia will be eyeing off a first innings lead with the knowledge that batting last won’t be easy.
“Sri Lanka’s batting is dicey, and the Australian attack is a very good one,” Chappell explained.
“Australia’s batting may not be well suited to conditions that favor the spinners, but they’ve always got a chance in the game because of the bowlers they’ve got, and they’ve got enough batters that can get them a reasonable score. “
Chappell was heartened by the performance of legspinner Mitchell Swepson, who took 3-55, including the wickets of Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal in consecutive balls.
It’s Swepson’s best figures in his two and half Tests to date, but Chappell stopped short of calling it a breakthrough performance.
“There’s always been the history of very good wrist spinners coming from Australia, and I don’t think we should abandon that at all,” he said.
“I don’t know if we haven’t been looking for them in recent years, or they’re not there, but I’m happy to see Swepson do well.
“I’m not surprised by it, breakthrough isn’t a term I use a lot, and for me the real test for him will come when he bowls in Australia.”
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