Former Australian batsman Dean Jones believes Steve Smith should have become just the eighth test player to be adjudged out for handling the ball, if not for New Zealand's "nice" sportsmanship.

Jones made the claim after Smith was rocked by a short delivery by Black Caps quick Neil Wagner.

While on 84, the ball struck Smith's bottom hand as he attempted to take it off the bat. He then brought the ball back into his body with his glove as he swivelled on the crease.

This second action is what Jones believed a typical Australian side would have immediately appealed for.

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"The second motion of the ball, he grabbed it and he's tried to pull it in with him," Jones told Fox Sports' Cricket 360.

"I know it's a tough call. The New Zealanders have been nice since Brendon McCullum. I tell you what, if it was an Australian side I dare say they would have appealed."

Fox Sports themselves agreed with Jones that Smith should have been dismissed and that "only the Black Caps' soft nature saved him".

While a distinct law around handling the ball hasn't been in the cricket rule books since 2017, a claim could have been made under the laws for obstructing the field which state "37.1.2 The striker is out Obstructing the field if, except in the circumstances of 37.2, in the act of receiving a ball delivered by the bowler, he/she wilfully strikes the ball with a hand not holding the bat. This will apply whether it is the first strike or a second or subsequent strike. The act of receiving the ball shall extend both to playing at the ball and to striking the ball more than once in defence of his/her wicket."

Indeed, striking the ball with a hand not holding a bat, in a second play at the ball, is what Jones was most concerned about.

"In my opinion, because it hit him involuntary, but then he grabbed it and nursed it in. Then he's pulled the ball back in. That is an intent to keep the ball away.

"For me, see he's got it, then he's pulled it back in and he's worried about the ball going back onto the stumps.

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"It would have been interesting to see what the third umpire would have done."

Luckily enough for the Black Caps, the decision not to appeal resulted in minimal damage with Smith finally dismissed less than four overs later and adding just one more run as Wagner had him caught behind by Henry Nicholls.