A day after landing in India, Australia captain Steve Smith says his boys are free to fire verbal volleys and display on-field aggression in the four-Test series
Australian captain Steve Smith raised the temperature yesterday ahead of the first Test against India, calling on his players to "go for it" with verbal volleys and on-field aggression.
India-Australia series are notoriously feisty affairs — the 2008 contest Down Under was almost called off following the infamous Monkeygate incident as animosity between the old foes threatened to boil over. There was then further bad blood during India's Test and one-day series in Australia, prior to the 2015 World Cup, when heated on-field exchanges led to several players being penalised. But the day after his team landed in India, Smith urged his players to do whatever it takes for Australia to win their first Test match in India since 2004, when the sides clash on February 23 in Pune.
"Each of our individuals play the way they play and if they want to get into a battle verbally then, if that gets the best out of them, go for it," he said at a press conference in the city yesterday. "It's all about us making sure that as individuals we're in the right mindset to go out and succeed and if guys want to get in those kind of battles then go for it," added the 27-year-old.
Relations between the old foes neared breaking point nine years ago when India spinner Harbhajan Singh was suspended for three matches for allegedly calling Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds a 'monkey' during the Sydney Test. The ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour, claiming Singh had been wrongly accused.
Then, in India's 2014-15 tour of Australia, Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Aussie Mitchell Starc, were charged with breaching the International Cricket Council's Code of Conduct. Opener David Warner had heated on-field exchanges with India batsman Rohit Sharma with the Australian telling him to 'speak English'.