Australia coach Justin Langer has backed Tim Paine’s leadership and described media criticism of Steve Smith as “rubbish” after the batsman faced accusations of gamesmanship in the wake of the third Test against India.

Skipper Paine has been under fire from former players and pundits for abusive sledging of R. Ashwin as the India spinner batted on the tense final day of the draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Langer said Paine, who apologised for his conduct on Tuesday, had fallen short of the team’s standards in Sydney but had barely put a “hair out of place” in nearly three years leading the team.

“He has been outstanding as the Australian captain in everything he does,” Langer told reporters on Wednesday.

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“He had a frustrating day. We’ve got to cut him some slack, surely. (He’s an) outstanding leader and will continue to be for some time to…

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