Benn banned for two ODIs, Haddin and Johnson fined
Sulieman Benn has been suspended following an ugly incident with Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson at the WACA on Thursday and will miss West Indies' next two one-day internationals. Benn was handed two suspension points by the match referee Chris Broad, which equates to a ban of one Test or two ODIs, while Haddin has been fined 25% of his match fee and Johnson 10%.
Because the incident occurred in the final Test of the series, Benn's penalty applies to the next international matches in which he is to participate - the ODIs against Australia in Melbourne and Adelaide in February. Benn pleaded not guilty to a Level 2 offence while Haddin and Johnson pleaded guilty to Level 1 offences, all for "conducting themselves in any way that is not in accordance with the spirit of the game".
Benn has the right to appeal and Broad said there was every chance he would have received a lesser penalty had he pleaded guilty. The charges related to the 118th over of Australia's innings, when Benn and Johnson ran into each other, Haddin angrily pointed his bat at Benn, and later in the over Benn approached the batsmen, brushing against Johnson, who then pushed Benn away.
Broad said: "It was an incident which could have been avoided. No one likes to see cricketers pointing bats at their opponents or pushing each other away. It is not the sort of example that players should be setting at any time, least of all in a series which is being played in a great spirit and being followed by millions around the world on television.
"The decision to find Benn guilty of a Level 2 offence is indicative of the fact that conduct contrary to the spirit of the game is completely unacceptable. I hope Mr Benn has learnt his lesson and will be careful in the future."
The over began with a run-in between the bowler Benn, who was moving across to field a drive, and the non-striker Johnson, who was taking off for a single. The contact seemed incidental, with neither man at fault, but Haddin appeared to inflame the situation after completing the run, when he pointed his bat at Benn.
The pair exchanged words and the sparks flew again two balls later, when Haddin drove the final ball of the over back to Benn, who shaped to throw at the striker's end even though Haddin was not taking off for a run. Haddin and Johnson had a mid-pitch meeting at the end of the over and Benn continued his remonstration, moving close to the batsmen and pointing at Haddin across the shoulder of Johnson.
There appeared to be some incidental contact between Johnson and Benn when Johnson moved to position himself between his partner and the bowler. Things became even uglier when Johnson pushed Benn away, following the initial contact. After stumps the West Indies captain Chris Gayle said he felt Benn had not initiated the physical clash.
"Benn wasn't involved in that," Gayle said. "If you watch the telly, you see who made physical contact."
Gayle said there wasn't much in the incident and he quickly moved to speak to his bowler, and the tension died down. "As a captain basically you just try to get on with the game," he said. "No-one wants to bring the game into disrepute so that was the only thing, just try to get on with it."
Benn's competitive nature was on display at the Adelaide Oval last week when he regularly followed through to move into the eyeline of the batsmen, taking the sort of aggressive approach not often seen in spin bowlers. He also has a lighter side and is known for singing at every opportunity and Australia's batsman Marcus North said while Benn was "an unusual guy", it was natural to expect that the match would be played in a competitive spirit.
"There's a contest out there and both teams play it hard and hopefully don't cross the line," North said. "Both teams have played in pretty good spirit this series."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo