'Smith never attempted any such thing when he was captain at Pune last year.'
'You can't try this in a T20 match.'
Rediff.com's Harish Kotian reports.
IMAGE: Then Rising Pune Supergiant captain Steve Smith during IPL-10. Photograph: BCCI
The ball tampering scandal is taking a huge toll on Steve Smith.
A day after he stepped down as Australia captain during the third Test against South Africa, Smith stepped down as the Rajasthan Royals skipper, citing that does not want the 'ongoing distractions' to hamper the IPL team's preparations.
Smith was replaced by Ajinkya Rahane as the Royals captain for the Indian Premier League, which begins on April 7.
Smith was praised for his leadership skills in last year's IPL and led Pune to the final, where the team lost to the Mumbai Indians by one run in a thrilling finish.
It was a superb turnaround for Pune under Smith's leadership as the team rose from finishing second from bottom in the previous season to second in the table last year.
And many felt it was due to Smith leading from the front after he replaced Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the captain for IPL-10.
Smith was instrumental in Pune's revival with 472 runs in 15 games last season and many players in the squad were in awe of his batting and leadership skills.
When news of the ball-tampering scandal broke on Saturday, players who played under Smith at Pune were flabbergasted.
"I was surprised when I saw that incident in the Cape Town Test. I never thought such kind of things would take place in international cricket and that too by a top team like Australia who have one of the best fast bowling attacks in the world," a former Rising Pune Supergiant player said, speaking on condition that he would not be identified by name for this report.
"I don't understand why in the world Australia attempted something like this. And it was equally shocking that this happened under the captaincy of Steve Smith," he added.
IMAGE: Then Rising Pune Supergiant captain Steve Smith, right, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni during IPL-10. Photograph: BCCI
The player clarified that Smith had not resorted to any unfair means during his tenure as Pune captain.
"Smith never attempted any such thing when he was captain at Pune last year. You can't try this in a T20 match," the player added.
He credited Smith with helping Pune perform to potential last season.
"He was a good captain. Under him, the team staged a superb turnaround to reach the final."
"I would say Smith was pretty brave enough to come out and admit that he was wrong," the player said of the Aussie's press conference on Saturday.
"Being the leader he took the blame on himself."