Steve Smith hits back at McCullum for labelling him immature

Brisbane, Nov 3 (IANS) Australian cricket 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.

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.

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 allrounder 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.

“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.

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