Rajasthan Royals captain Ajinkya Rahane said that he respects ousted former Australian captain Steve Smith as a player. Smith was recently stripped of the Australian captaincy in the storm that brewed after he admitted that he was part of a plot that saw Cameron Bancroft tampering with the ball during the third day of the third Test between Australia and South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Smith has received a one year ban from Cricket Australia and was subsequently lost his captaincy of the Rajasthan Royals as well.
“Whatever had to happen has already happened. It’s bygone now. It is not for me to comment on the amount of penalty handed to him by the Cricket Australia and the ICC. But his cricketing record should be respected. I respect him as a batsman and player,” Rahane said during a media conference. Smith’s team mate and his vice captain David Warner has also received a year-long ban from Cricket Australia and that also resulted in him losing captaincy of IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad. Both Smith and Warner won’t be playing in this season’s IPL and the absence of the former, Rahane said, puts “added responsibility” on his shoulders. “Yes we would miss him but we have a replacement (Heinrich Klaasen). I feel it is an added responsibility and also a big challenge for me,” said Rahane, who was made captain after Smith vacated the post.
Smith recently gave an emotional press conference after his return to Australia in which he apologised for his actions. Till his fall from grace, Smith’s extraordinary form with the bat in Test cricket had led to many former cricketers and experts calling him as an heir to Australian legend Sir Donald Bradman. He is the top ranked Test batsman and his current tally of 938 rating points is the second highest ever for a batsman since Bradman. The past couple of years has been a tug of war between Smith and Indian captain Virat Kohli for the title of best batsman in the world and the latter might just take a lead in the race owing to Smith’s ban.