After Steve Harmison, former England bowler Monty Panesar has also criticised Steve Smith, saying that the Australian should not be compared with any cricketing great after his involvement in the sandpaper-gate. A couple of days ago, Harmison said that Smith would always be remembered as a cheat irrespective of what he achieves on the field.

Smith made his comeback to Test cricket in the ongoing Ashes after serving the one-year ban. And the former Australia skipper has turned out to be the difference so far. In a series where most of the batsmen have struggled to deliver, Smith has looked class apart. Despite missing three innings due to concussion, he is still the leading run-scorer in the series.

So far, Smith has scored 671 runs at 134.2. His scores in the series read – 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82. Smith has also become the leading run-scorer in Tests this year in addition to reclaiming his number one ranking in Tests. Unsurprisingly, the cricketing world has lavished praise on the Australia.

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However, England fans and their former cricketers seem to be still upset with what Smith did last year. Throughout this summer, the England fans have jeered and booed Smith. And Monty Panesar has also expressed the same sentiments.

“This will always be at the back of the mind of every cricket fan. Smith has similar stature as Ricky Ponting. Does he deserve that? I would say no. Because Ponting captained the team, scored many match-winning knocks and guided Australia to World Cup (title), but he didn’t do the Sandpaper incident. If we will compare Smith with him, we would be tarnishing Ponting’s image. I don’t think his (Smith) name should be associated with any cricketing great,”  Monty Panesar told Times of India.

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“There is a difference between a good player and a great player. It’s all about how you conduct yourself on and off the field. Because of the sandpaper incident, Smith will always be below the ‘great’ status. Look at Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, MS Dhoni or Kapil Dev. When we talk about these cricketers we add legend or great before their names. Be it on or off the field, these guys have conducted themselves so well. When you meet them, you feel so good. They are great human beings. It doesn’t matter how many runs Smith will score, he will never be in the league of greats,” he added.

Monty Panesar
Monty Panesar (Credits: Twitter)

Panesar further said that Smith will always be remembered for the sandpaper-gate. At the same time, Panesar also hailed Smith as a great talent.

“(Steve) Smith was probably honest with himself. He is back and doing what he always loves to do. He is batting well and scoring runs. He is a traditional Australian cricketer with the baggy green. He is exactly what an Australian cricketer looks like. We all have heard of great (Diego) Maradona and his hand goal (hand of God) in the World Cup. People remember him because of that goal. Similarly, people will always remember Smith’s involvement in the ball-tampering episode during the Test against South Africa. He will always be known as a cheat, despite scoring huge number of runs,” said Panesar.

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“There is no doubt though, that he is a great talent. He has been phenomenal for Australian cricket. After some years, I am not sure how people will treat him. When his name will be placed alongside great cricketers then there will be a question that is he really a great or just a good cricketer who is also a cheat,” he added.

Australia, meanwhile, have already retained the Ashes after winning the fourth Test. They took an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series after thrashing England by 185-runs in Manchester. This is the first time since 2011 that Australia would leave England without losing the Ashes.

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