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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Oscar on January 19, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    @reasoner2 That's very interesting, and the television replays proved that the catches you knew you took were clean? have a think about what you wrote. I remember having my fingers jammed off of a caught and bowled playing club cricket, to this day I still can't work out how it wasn't a clean. The reason why I know it wasn't was my captain fielding at short mid-off said it bounced. My captain was David Hookes. So thanks for your insight @reasoner2.

  • Kell on January 19, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    Not really sure why anyone would listen to Botham anyway. Great cricketer but poor commentator. This is no different from Bell smashing the edge and not walking. Move on!!!!!!!!!

  • oswell on January 18, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    Sad to say but I'm in total agreement with Sir Ian Botham. I don't know why this debate of whether a catch is taken clean or not has been going on for all these years. I've been playing cricket most of my life and I can tell you there are two distinctly different feelings when a low catch is taken clean or taken on the bounce. When a low catch is taken clean you fell the weight of the ball going down into your hand and when it is taken on the bounce the ball hits your hand on the way up. A lot of fielders got away with this practice before but thanks for technology the 'cheats' have now been expose.

  • david on January 17, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    botham called it as he saw it. hughes at 1st thought he had caught it. then in his face u could see a doubt. he when his mates crowded round him he seemed to think it was a catch. as a cricketer and commentator itb has always called it as he saw it, thats why they pay him a million pounds a year. dpk

  • aaron on January 17, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    captainbarebum-dont assume that you know anything of my cricketing background, I have played a level well beyond most people who follow our great game. I agree with you in that some catches as a fielder you are not sure ie Langer at cover from Vaughan when he went on to make a hundred when he probably was caught.The point I was making with the Hughes incident is that it had so blatantly bounced there is no way (in my opinion from playing) that this was such an incident. You say that "sometimes the ball comes at you in a fraction of a second & drops sharply at your ankles so you tuck your fingers underneath reflexively & hope you got it clean before it touches down"...I agree but in this instance the ball bounced into his hands and in that situation most people playing at that level would know themselves and not try to claim a catch, perhaps it was the score at the time that lead him to not think through what he was doing as they needed a wicket so badly.

  • Justin on January 17, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    You dont see this reaction when a batsman edges one and doesnt walk - I have never heard a commentator say that they were cheating. The correct decision was made in the end.

  • Andy on January 17, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    aaronp you don't know anything about cricket he was obvioulsy unsure and said so. H e threw the ball in the air because as D.V.C says everyone else went up and so he thought he did catch it. Next time you should not comment unless you have an unbiased opinion or know something about the game.

  • James on January 17, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    @aaronp: clearly, obviously, absolutely, YOU have never played any cricket yourself. Because if you have, you'd know from experience that sometimes the ball comes at you in a fraction of a second & drops sharply at your ankles so you tuck your fingers underneath reflexively & hope you got it clean before it touches down. Often, because the ball might flip up into your face you probably blink instinctively, not knowing for certain if it's a catch or not. So you are wrong, mate, you DON'T always KNOW under circumstances like that. Come on, Hughes knows as well as anyone that it will be replayed in slow-mo & in close-up by several cameras & the truth will be revealed for the world to see anyway. As for Botham, I guarantee that if it was an England player in Hughes's shoes, the ugly knee-jerk accusation of cheating would NOT have come out his clearly biased mouth. No benefit of the doubt for an Aussie player from Botham who evidently can read minds, "He KNOWS he hasn't caught it."

  • David on January 17, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    ian botham - who's she? dont worry about him hughesy....

  • Paul on January 17, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    If Botham wants to view sportsmanship in black and white, the next question to ask is what you think of someone who deliberately runs out his own captain.

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