Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 5, 2011

Clarke defends Hughes over claimed catch


Michael Clarke has defended Phillip Hughes against Ian Botham's accusation of cheating and also cleared Ian Bell for not walking to a ball he was later shown to edge. Hughes was unsure whether he caught Alastair Cook at short leg, momentarily celebrating the dismissal before asking whether it had carried.

Cook, who was on 99, stood his ground and stayed when the replays showed the ball bouncing in front of Hughes. Botham was quick to criticise Hughes while commentating on Sky Sports. "Terrible," he said. "Cheating. How much do you want it to bounce into your hands? He knows he hasn't caught it."

Clarke, Australia's captain, said Botham's reaction was "a bit harsh". "I can guarantee one thing, Phillip Hughes is not a cheat, that's for sure," he said. "He's a wonderful young guy. The end result was spot-on. Hughesy wasn't sure, Brad Haddin wasn't sure, we made it clear to the umpires, the umpires referred the catch, checked it."

Cook thought the call was "very close". "To be fair to Phil Hughes he said straightaway, 'I wasn't sure'. Obviously I was going to hang around on 99, you've got to be dragged off. They went upstairs and I think the right decision was made."

Clarke said he hadn't seen the replay for either the Cook or Bell decisions, but had no problem with the use of technology, even though it's not perfect. "It's the same for both teams and I actually said that out there to Bell," Clarke said. "I said I do think, especially, Hotspot is inconsistent, but it's the same for both teams. I'm sure there's been plenty of cases when we've been batting and the same thing's happened, so it's just about accepting the decision and getting on with it."

Bell was 67 when he was given out caught behind by Aleem Dar, taking a relatively long time to decide on referring the decision. Hotspot didn't show a mark on numerous replays so the third umpire Tony Hill overturned the ruling. A few minutes later Snicko showed an edge, supporting Dar's original judgment.

The local crowd booed Bell when he reached his century, his first against Australia, and again when he was dismissed by Mitchell Johnson. Clarke felt Shane Watson deserved the original wicket, but didn't believe Bell had done anything wrong by not walking off.

"I don't think Ian Bell is a cheat at all," Clarke said. "We thought there was an inside edge, we appealed that, it was referred. Technology says with the result that Ian didn't hit the ball." Clarke said he would find it hard to believe any batsman would refer a caught decision if he knew he'd nicked it.

Cook was at the other end to Bell. "It's a weird one because Michael Clarke had one at Brisbane where we were convinced and Snicko said he might have hit it," Cook said. "Belly said he wasn't sure, he didn't feel it, and Hotspot didn't show. Is Snicko totally right, no-one really knows?"

Michael Hussey was the only Australian who was seen to applaud both Cook and Bell when they reached their centuries, although Clarke had a different view. "I guarantee I clapped both their hundreds, and Cook's 150," he said. "I'm certain the rest of the team did. A lot of the guys said congratulations at tea, when Cook had a hundred."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    Anyone who's ever batted at any level of cricket knows whether or not the ball has hit the bat. Bell is being disingenuous at best when he says he wasn't sure: batsmen are always sure.

    The closest any commentator I've heard has come to acknowledging this truth is Justin Langer on TMS when he said, cynically, that if a batsman 'isn't sure' you can reckon he hit it. But no one wants to call Bell a cheat. And indeed he did have every right to request a review as the system stands, although it seems a little strange that he would expose himself to ridicule by requesting a review knowing he'd hit it and that the technology would reveal this. Perhaps the desire for an Ashes century was just strong enough to temporarily disconnect his brain. Either way I'd like to see him apologize and admit he hit it, but I don't think they're planning on holding the winter olympics in Hell just yet.

    The sooner these reviews are taken out of the players' hands the better. It must be left up to the umpires.

  • David on January 6, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    I don't think you can call Hughes a cheat and then not call Bell a cheat as well and visa versa I suppose. Both were using the system to extract a decision for the team. Problem is you have a situation where, is trying cheat technology any better than trying to cheat a person. Greg Dyer tried cheating in about '86/87 and never played again I don't see the intent of Bell being much different because as a player he would have known he hit it. The idea of the technology is to get decisions right and they are still not getting correct decisions. Hawk Eye is a joke there have been a number of LBW that there was no way they'd hit although hawkeye has them clipping stumps. As for Aleem Dar being the best umpire, English supporters would say that becasue every one of his decisions have gone Englands way. I'd sooner see the technology gone and you accept the umpires decision right or wrong

  • bingobob on January 6, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    I've had my suspicions about hotspot for a while. Don't get me wrong, every team using the UDRS has (at some time) benefited. Either 1 of 2 things is happening. 1. Nicks aren't being registered on hotspot... Or 2. When a ball goes really close to the bat (without actually touching the bat) a sound is made. It was the same with Pietersen's decision in Melbourne. The noise couldn't have been anything but bat on ball (unless option 2 is to be believed).

  • Andrew on January 6, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    I can't understand anyone getting stuck into Aleem Daar AT ALL over the Bell decision. I understand that the third umpire referred back to him and said "there's nothing here to suggest it's out, so its over to you". After that advice he would have been crazy to do anything other than reverse his decision. If he'd gone the other way we would really have a controversy...All that said the system definitely has flaws

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    Snicko being "right" or "wrong" is not the question, that fact is that if there is a noise snicko will show it and if you have an understanding of the "wav" format it is easy enough to define what is bat and what is not. If we use the challenge system ALL available technology must be clearly utilized or it is nothing short of a farce.

  • Benjamin on January 6, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    @5wombats I'm not saying they're angels - I'm saying that as far as Australian crowds go they have the most knowledge and passion for the game and show due respect. Lords it the UK's spiritual home the SCG's is ours. They apprecaite good cricket and applaude accordlingly. There are always idiots at a game of cricket I'm not deniing that. Geez they even let your mob the Barmy in to Lords so say no more!

    As for Bell's record he might have played 4 and won 3 but has contributed next to nothing bar this tour that is what I'm getting at. The Aussies have been creamed - the entire ENG top 7 has made a 100 bar colly so it goes without saying they're not playing much chop in terms of opposition. Saying other wise would be stupid. 3 years ago I'm sure you were one of millions calling for bell to never play again, now your jumping to his defence - how times of changed.

    I accept defeat and the Aussies are going to get worse before they get better. Eng are better in all areas.

  • Simon on January 6, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    I think at the end of the day it shows technology must be used

  • Simon on January 6, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    @marcio Do you think England were the better team or just lucky...???

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    Clark another Punter in making...Look who is defending Hughes. Clark himself was part of the cheating episode on the same ground claiming Ganguly's catch. Play Honest Ozz....Where is your hard game Ozz. Punter is the greatest allrounder as he has some umpiring decision under his belt which players like Kallis and fredie will never aspire for!!!

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 0:55 GMT

    @A.ak: there is a big difference between what aussies did vs india and what bell did yesterday ( or what many people thought anyways). The perception is Bell knew he had nicked it, umpire gave him out, and then Bell said to the umpire "mate, i think you are wrong and i challenge your decision". So that is clearly not on. There is nothing wrong with not walking. Even sachin did not walk at newlands on day 3 when he was on 49. But it is entirely different to ask for a review when u know u are out. Btw, I really liked the lack of arrogance clarke brings to the team. Ponting should learn something from this. I hope Clarke stays on as captain. I am pretty sure Ricky would have argued with aleem dar over both calls.

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