PERTH – Rival captains Tim Paine and Virat Kohli on Tuesday played down their heated exchanges which prompted intervention from the umpire during the second Test between Australia and India.
Australia won by 146 runs for their first Test victory since a ball-tampering scandal in March, which triggered a damning review of a win-at-all-costs team culture.
Much attention centred on exchanges between Kohli and Paine on the third and fourth days, which were picked up by stump microphones and prompted umpire Chris Gaffaney to warn the pair to “play the game”.
But Kohli, one of the most animated players in world cricket, said there was nothing to worry about in what was said during the match.
“As long as there is no swearing the line doesn't get crossed,” he said. “And no personal attacks.”
The Indian captain described the exchanges as competitive “banter”.
“Stump mics and cameras... these things are totally irrelevant,” he said. “It stays on the field.”
He added that the remarks in Perth were nothing compared to their Australian tour in 2014, when he claimed to have been called a “spoilt brat”.
Paine also said his sparring with Kohli did not get out of hand, adding that he admired his opposite number's passion for Test cricket.
“It was a highly competitive Test match from both teams and there was a lot on the line, with both teams desperately wanting to win,” Paine said. “It (Kohli's behaviour) was not (worrying) to me, I love it and I'm sure it was great to watch.”
After the ball-tampering scandal, Australia's on-field behaviour was sharply criticised by some commentators who have been critical of the team's history of sledging, or insulting opposition players.
But Paine said he was pleased with the competitive spirit his team showed in Perth.
“At some point you have got to draw a line and start sticking up for yourself and your team-mates,” he said. “We are all very passionate about playing Test cricket for Australia.
“I was really proud of the way our team conducted itself on the field this week.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)