The BCCI has withdrawn the complaint against Steven Smith and Peter Handscomb hours after lodging it with the ICC, as the aftermath of the Bengaluru Test continued to unfold at a rapid pace.* A joint statement after the two board CEOs met constituted the second statement of peace in two days, after the ICC had said on Wednesday that it was not going to pursue the DRS controversy further.
That, it is understood, came after the ICC had studied match footage and the evidence available before deciding to not press any charges against any of the Australia players or Virat Kohli. This was communicated to both the boards, who wanted the ICC to initiate proceedings. The BCCI wanted an investigation into their allegations that Australia sought dressing-room assistance on DRS reviews, and CA wanted action against Kohli who had made public accusations that Australia systemically manipulated DRS protocols.
The incident occurred on the final day of the Test, when Smith looked towards the dressing room after having chatted with non-striker Handscomb when given out lbw in a tense chase, apparently for clues on whether to review the call or not. Umpire Nigel Llong intervened immediately, and sent Smith on his way. In his post-match conference, Smith put his actions down to a "brain fade". Kohli disagreed with that, saying Australia took help from their dressing room on at least three occasions before making their mind up on DRS reviews in the Test. Kohli said he had made the umpires aware of the matter on two occasions before the third one played out in full view.
Incidentally, the other two incidents that Kohli spoke of were not even part of the complaint that the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri lodged on Thursday. Under the DRS protocols, the Smith incident was already dealt with when he was not allowed to communicate with his dressing room. Had he then sought a review, it would have been disallowed.
The BCCI, though, pushed for a charge for a level 2 offence under the ICC code of conduct, contending that Smith and Handscomb had acted against the spirit of cricket. To prove Smith and Handscomb had violated the spirit of cricket, the BCCI would have to prove intent, for which there is no evidence available. Handscomb had already tweeted an explanation for the incident saying he had asked Smith to look up because he didn't know the playing conditions.
Once the ICC received this complaint, it spoke to Johri and CA CEO James Sutherland, who were both present in Mumbai, and impressed upon them that the charge BCCI wanted to press was near impossible to prove. The drama ended late in the night, when the joint statement was released at 11.28pm.
It said: "The BCCI will withdraw the complaint filed with ICC with an expectation that the two captains will meet prior to the Ranchi Test and commit to lead their teams by example and play the rest of the series, in the right spirit, demonstrating that the players from both teams are true ambassadors for their respective countries."
I referred smudga to look at the box... my fault and was unaware of the rule. Shouldn't take anything away from what was an amazing game!
— Peter Handscomb (@phandscomb54) March 7, 2017
This should put end to a hostile aftermath of the Bengaluru Test, in which both the boards and their media wings became active participants. BCCI's official Twitter handle released a clip of Smith's dismissal with the caption "dressing room review system?". On Thursday, Sutherland called Kohli's claims "outrageous", and the BCCI responded in a media release that it stood behind its captain.
*18.00GMT, March 9: This article was updated after the BCCI withdrew its complaint.