Australian news January 16, 2011

Hughes 'shocked' by Botham cheat claims

ESPNcricinfo staff

Phillip Hughes, Australia's opening batsman, said he was "hit pretty hard" by Ian Botham's claim that he was cheating for appealing for a catch during the SCG Ashes Test. Hughes was fielding at short-leg when he took the ball off Alastair Cook and quickly expressed his uncertainty over whether the ball had carried - replays showed it hadn't.

But by then Botham, commentating on Sky Sports, had said: "Terrible. Cheating. How much do you want it to bounce into your hands? He knows he hasn't caught it."

Hughes was defended by both Cook and Michael Clarke, the captain, and said he was "shocked" by the comments. "I remember [Clarke] came back into the sheds and said, 'Botham's called you a cheat'," Hughes said in the Sunday Telegraph. "I said, 'what's he talking about? What's going on here?'

"If you saw the replay you could see I wasn't sure, and I even said to Alastair Cook I wasn't sure. People will look back on the incident and know I wasn't sure. I was a bit shocked by the comments. It doesn't matter when people say your technique isn't great, but when you're called a cheat, it hits you pretty hard."

Hughes struggled for runs after replacing the injured Simon Katich, managing only 97 in the final three Tests of the series. "I suppose when you lose everyone comes out and nails you, but if you score 50 or 100 and win the game, people don't comment," he said. "That's part and parcel of professional cricket."

He was also in trouble during the series for attending pre-game breakfasts with Clarke in Sydney and Melbourne. James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, called the decision "a supreme error of judgment" that opened them up to criticism. "You learn through your journey," Hughes said. "Everyone makes mistakes and this was a mistake."