Australia coach Justin Langer has defended his players over “rubbish” criticism following the drawn third Test against India.

Captain Tim Paine and former skipper Steve Smith were both in the firing line as a result of their on-field antics on the final day of a dramatic third Test as a battered and bruised Indian side salvaged a draw at the SCG.

Paine was heavily criticised after some aggressive sledging towards Indian veteran Ravichandaran Ashwin, whose dogged 39 not out from 190 balls helped India survive Australia’s fast-bowling onslaught, was picked up on the stump microphones.

That followed Paine being fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of dissent, having appealed to standing umpire Paul Wilson for some “f***ing consistency” during the game.

Tim Paine and Steve Smith stand looking off to one side, both standing with their hands on their hips
Langer has jumped to the defence of Tim Paine (left) and Steve Smith.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Australia’s captain apologised for the way he behaved during the Test on Tuesday morning, saying he had a “really poor game”.

However, Langer defended his skipper, saying people should cut him some slack.

“You have no idea how much faith I have in Tim Paine,” Langer said on a zoom call this morning.

“He didn’t have his best day, no doubt about that, but after three years he has hardly put a hair out of place.

“He has been outstanding as the Australian captain in everything that he does.

Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine walks with his head hung after the third Test against India at the SCG.
Tim Paine dropped a number of catches during the third Test.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar told ABC Sport that Paine’s verbal barbs were “unnecessary”, adding “he certainly is no captain in my view”.

However, Langer said that his skipper had his “100 per cent support” and he would be leading the side for the foreseeable future.

“When you set a standard as high as he does and we do, we understand we will get criticised when we fall below that,” Langer said.

“It’s not what we’re about, but Tim Paine [is an] outstanding leader and will continue to be for some time to come yet.”

Smith accusations ‘ludicrous’

Australia batsman Steve Smith looks over his should. India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant does the same during a Test.
Steve Smith (left) scored 131 in the first innings and 81 in the second at the SCG.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Langer also defended Smith, who was heavily criticised for his actions during India’s second batting innings.

Footage from the stump camera showed Smith taking a left-handed guard during a drinks break before appearing to scuff at the crease while Rishabh Pant — who made 97 before being dismissed — was in the middle.


Former India batsman Virendar Sehwag used the footage as evidence that Australia “tried all tricks” during India’s valiant chase.

“This is very, very poor,” former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter of the Smith incident, while former England bowler Darren Gough said Smith’s actions were “plain cheating”.

“He [Smith] had showed us these tears and sorrow for using sandpaper on the ball. He was the captain who was responsible for it because he was the leader,” Gough told TalkSport.

“Well now, in the break in play in between overs, he’s going around dancing around scuffing up the pitch and rubbing out with his spikes the batsman’s marker.

However Langer said those comments were an “absolute load of rubbish”.

“I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I have read about Steve Smith,” Langer said.

Steve Smith swings the bat as the ball passes over his head
Langer described Smith as “quirky”.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

“Anyone who knows Steve Smith, he’s a bit quirky, and he does some weird … we’ve all laughed about it for the last couple of years.

“What Steve Smith does at the crease, he does it probably most games, he’s just thinking about the game.

Langer went on to say that Smith “went nowhere near the crease” and that as the pitch was “like concrete, you’d need 15-inch spikes to make an indent on the crease”.

“I thought that was absolutely ludicrous and, again, in the last couple of years since he has been back he has been exemplary on and off the field,” Langer said.

“He was abused like I’ve never seen anything through England and he just kept smiling and let his bat do the talking.

“Give me a break.”

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