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February 3, 2011
Michael Clarke doesn't believe batsmen should be allowed runners when suffering from cramp after Jonathan Trott had the help of a team-mate for the latter part of his career-best 137 at Sydney.
Trott was hobbling as he approached his hundred on a scorching day then shortly after passing the milestone called for assistance and Matt Prior ran for Trott until he fell in the final over of the innings. Clarke briefly discussed the situation with the umpires, Marais Erasmus and Daryl Harper, but the playing conditions have recently been amended leaving the decision to grant a runner solely at the discretion of the officials.
"I found out that was a rule that has come back in this year," Clarke said. "I don't agree, it shouldn't be the case that you are allowed a runner if you have cramp. But that's the rule. They've certainly done nothing wrong."
England were at the centre of a runner-based controversy in late 2009 when Andrew Strauss denied Graeme Smith the use of one during the Champions Trophy in South Africa. Smith, who scored 141 in South Africa's 22-run defeat at Centurion, was cramping badly during the innings but Strauss, in consultation with the umpires, didn't allow a runner.
"The ICC has changed the rule," Strauss said. "If we all want to abide by the rules then we can. The rules were that you couldn't have a runner if you have cramp and then they changed it to you can have a runner if you have cramp."
Following the Smith incident, Strauss was adamant that cramp was an issue of fitness and condition, not an injury. "Cramping to a certain extent is a preparation thing," he said after the South Africa match. "To a certain extent, it's a conditioning thing. My personal view is that you shouldn't get a runner for cramps, full stop."
On this occasion Trott's need for a runner came in the first innings of the match, whereas Smith had also spent 50 overs fielding. Trott recovered to take his place on the middle a few overs into Australia's chase and also bowled four overs. "I had 40 minutes break and I didn't come on until after a couple of overs," he said. "You get a bit of liquid on board and you sit there under the air conditioning and your body cools down a little bit."
Strauss appeared more up to speed on the new runner situation than Clarke and it wasn't the only occasion where the Australia captain was caught out by the umpires. As the run chase came to a head Clarke wanted to call the batting Powerplay at the start of the 41st over, but was told he informed the umpires too late. He then missed his chance again in the next over and couldn't take it until the 43rd.
"I was told with the Powerplay you have to let the umpires know you want to take it before they get to their mark," Clarke said. "The first time I tried to take it so they [England] would have to change the bowler and I got told you had to tell the umpires earlier, then in next over I said 'righto I'm definitely taking the Powerplay' and Daryl Harper said I'm already at my mark. If that's the rule, that's the rule."
In the end the delay didn't hurt Australia as the five overs of fielding restrictions brought 50 runs for the Clarke-David Hussey partnership and pushed the home side to the brink of victory which they eventually completed with two wickets and four balls to spare.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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