Kohli claim 'absurd' and 'offensive'

David Saker responds to Indian skipper, expresses surprise at absence of ICC action

One of the key members of the Australia backroom staff implicated in Virat Kohli’s claim that the team engages in systematic bending of the rules has dismissed the allegation as "absurd" and "really offensive".

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Two days after the India captain torched what was an already fiery Test series with his incendiary view that Australia’s players routinely looked to the team balcony to help them adjudicate their on-field DRS discussions, Bupa Support Team Assistant Coach David Saker scoffed at the suggestion.

I would never do that on the cricket field: Kohli

The former England bowling coach, who was a key member of Alistair Cook’s squad when they became the most recent touring team to win a Test series in India in 2012, said he has never seen such a practice employed throughout his 22-year involvement with top-level cricket.

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And Saker went further to decry Kohli’s as-yet-unproven claims that he twice saw Australia employ the illegal tactic while he was batting in the second Test in the days prior to the incident involving Australia captain Steve Smith that sparked the furore.

"It’s pretty much absurd I think, when Steven Smith did look up (to the team balcony after being given out lbw) we were more horrified than anyone else because we’d never seen that before," Saker said today.

"We haven’t got any elaborate sign system and when he did do that it was quite a surprise to us.

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"To be fair, if we have got this sign system then we got it wrong quite horribly, twice, with (David) Warner and (Shaun) Marsh (both victims of incorrect reviews on the final day at Bengaluru).

"I don’t know what he (Kohli) is thinking when he says that, or if he sees what he sees on the balcony, but I can assure you in all my time in cricket I’ve never seen it happen."

Saker also dismissed suggestions the Australia team had lost respect for Kohli after the India skipper stopped marginally short of accusing them of cheating in his post-match media conference.

The former Victoria and Tasmania seamer said the Australians maintained the utmost respect for Kohli’s unquestioned talents as a batsman, and for the passion he brings to his role as leader in rallying his players and India’s huge fan base.

But Saker said Kohli’s suggestion that he had repeatedly seen the Australians flagrantly breaching the DRS protocols – even though he claimed the breaches crossed the line but would not confirm that he considered it cheating – was one that carried serious connotations and implications.

"It’s really offensive,” Saker said.

"It’s probably the worst thing you can be called is cheats, that’s an offensive thing.

"We’ve never done anything like that and we never will.

"You should have to back up what you say.

"But we respect him as a player, he’s an amazing player and his passion and the way he wanted to get his team up was quite evident out on the ground.

"There are times when you think he might have crossed the line, but a lot of teams have done that, and leaders have done that."

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The fact that so many heated clashes broke out during the course of a second Test - that also produced more than its share of compelling cricket – without a charge being laid by match referee Chris Broad has also bemused many, including Saker.

A fast bowler never known to take a backward step in his feisty playing days, the 50-year-old claimed the decision not to cite any player from either team under the ICC’s Code of Conduct was "quite amazing".

And was something of a throwback to the days before match officials clamped down hard on poor player behaviour that portrayed the game in a negative light.

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As shown during last year’s ODI series in Sri Lanka when referee Javagal Srinath, the former India seamer, reprimanded Mitchell Starc for 'conduct contrary to the spirit of the game' after Starc hurled a ball at the stumps when the batter was safely in his ground.

"It was quite amazing that nothing was done,” Saker said today after the ICC confirmed that no charges would be laid against any players, most notably Kohli or Smith.

"In my time in the last three or four years those sort of things have been stamped out quite well, but it came back.

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"It was more 70s or 80s stuff."

However, Saker also indicated the ICC might be a bit more pro-active in relation to the time limit teams are granted to call for the DRS process to be enacted to ensure the window for outside influences to get involved was effectively closed.

And therefore eliminate the chances of the behaviour that Kohli has alleged was taking place.

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At present, the captain of the fielding team or the batter who is questioning a decision has 30 seconds from the time the umpire’s decision is made to when the chance to call for DRS has passed.

Saker said that while he has never heard of a player using that time to glean information from sources off the field, any push to reduce that further would lessen the chances of the process becoming compromised.

"I think maybe the ICC might be looking at shortening the time the captains are given," Saker said today.

"Because there is a lot of time, that (referring to information from the team dressing room or elsewhere) could actually happen if you wanted to do it.

"But I’ve never seen it, and I’ve never heard anyone talk about it until (Tuesday).

"It’s nothing that we’ve ever done."