Brisbane/Melbourne: Australian captain Steve Smith has hit back at his New Zealand counterpart Brendon McCullum for labelling him as "immature" in his newspaper column earlier this year and he has also found support from his teammate David Warner.
Smith's decision against withdrawing a controversial obstructing the field appeal against England's Ben Stokes at Lord's in September drew criticism from some quarters, including from McCullum.
Australia's David Warner (L) and Steve Smith (R) celebrate their teams Ashes cricket clean sweep after defeating England on the third day of the fifth Ashes cricket Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5, 2014.
The Black Caps skipper, who will face-off with Smith in the first Test starting on Thursday, said at the time that Smith would come to regret his decision not to withdraw his appeal.
Smith has now responded on the eve of the Test series.
"Yeah I was a little bit disappointed," Smith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Tuesday.
"I didn't really think it was any of his business."
Asked if the issue would be a topic of onfield banter during the summer, Smith responded: "You never know, they (the New Zealanders) might bring it up or something but for me it's in the past -- (I'll) move on and focus on this summer now."
Smith maintains that he did nothing wrong in the Stokes incident, which proved to be a flashpoint of the Ashes series and an early test of the young captain's fledgling leadership.
During the second One-Day International, Stokes defended a delivery back to fast bowler Mitchell Starc and in doing so stepped several paces out of his crease. Seeing the England allrounder so far down the wicket, Starc threw the ball at the stumps at the striker's end and Stokes -- as he turned to get back into his crease -- deflected the ball away with his hand.
It was deemed that the all-rounder had deliberately obstructed the throw and was given out, despite loud boos from the normally timid Lord's crowd and pleas from England captain Eoin Morgan for Smith to withdraw the appeal.
McCullum had said in his column for a daily that Smith missed a great opportunity to strike a blow for the spirit of cricket, adding that the Australian showed his immaturity by not withdrawing his appeal.
"I actually wouldn't change a thing," Smith said.
"I think what happened, Starcy (Starc) threw the ball and Stokes willingly put his hand out when the ball was going to hit the stumps, so for me it was just out."
"If I faced the same situation again you’d get the same result. It was a nice little experience. Obviously the crowds can be quite vocal over in England, at Lord's that day they were getting into you. That doesn’t happen too often but I think it was nice to look back and be able to say if that happened again I’d do the same thing. No regrets," he said.
Backing his new skipper Steve Smith, Australian explosive opener David Warner has said that the New Zealander's opinion was 'poor and immature', insisting that he has no right to comment upon the former's decision on Ben Stokes at the Lord's.
"In my opinion it was something that was quite poor and immature on his behalf, to actually make the comment about Steve. For one, as an international cricketer I don't see the need or the right for a current cricket captain to write columns on another series. After I read the first one I didn't really pay attention to what he was saying," Warner was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Warner also said that his side would fight hard to become number one in all formats of the game.
"At the end of the day you're not playing for the Spirit of Cricket Award are you, you're playing for a series and for us that's what our goal is, is to win the series. Our goal is to be No.1 in all formats and we're always going to fight for that. At the end of the day we try not to cross that line. A couple of times we've head-butted it," the 29-year-old said.
Australia are all set to renew their trans-Tasman rivalry with New Zealand, with the first of the three-match Test series starting at the Gabba on Thursday.
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