Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane November 25, 2013

Don't rein in aggression, say players


Australia's cricketers should not be reined in from the aggression they showed during the first Ashes Test and broadcasters have erred in exposing players to unnecessary sanctions from the ICC, their union chief Paul Marsh has said. Michael Clarke was fined for a comment to the England No. 11 James Anderson that was relayed by stump microphone during the closing moments of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, drawing an apology from Channel Nine.

Clarke's words to Anderson included "get ready for a broken f***ing arm" as the Englishman delayed facing up to the man of the match Mitchell Johnson. This advice was no great departure from what is commonly said on the field, but Clarke was nonetheless sanctioned for his words due to their broadcast around Australia and the world.

Australia's aggressive posture throughout the Test helped to reap a 381-run victory over England, their first win in an Ashes Test match since December 2010. Marsh, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, said he hoped Clarke's team would not be reined in by Cricket Australia for pursuing a brand of cricket that was aggressive in both word and deed.

"That's how we play our best cricket," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "To be aggressive on the field is what I think the Australian cricket team needs to do and I thought it was terrific that they did that. I think the majority of the Australian public were very buoyed by the way they played, the aggression they showed on the field, so I hope there's no attempt to rein them in.

"We all know there is a line, and not for one minute am I saying the players should cross that line, but I think there's nothing wrong with aggressive cricket, not just what you say but how you go about it. The fast bowling in this match was first-rate and the players showed they weren't going to take a backward step. The words of the English players would suggest they were more than comfortable with what was said out on the pitch."

Marsh said broadcasters risked their access to on-field audio if such instances were not stamped out. "The broadcasters of the game have a significant responsibility when they're using stump mic," Marsh said. "The players put a lot of trust in them that things that are said on the field remain on the field - most times they get that right.

"But it's still disappointing and not acceptable to us that these types of incidents make their way into viewers' living rooms, because the players agreed to have stump mics and the accessibility they give all the broadcasters around the world on the proviso that it is used responsibly. If, as it appears, Michael's copped a fine because of the audio that was heard in people's living rooms that shouldn't have been heard, then it's very disappointing."

Marsh has written to CA expressing his displeasure about the incident. "I've written to CA this morning and had a response from them around the issue," he said. "These things have happened a few times over the years and it's something the broadcasters have expressed remorse over historically, and they're remorseful again, but it doesn't really help Michael Clarke in this situation."

Nine's head of sport Steve Crawley has offered an apology to Clarke for allowing his chirping to reach audiences. "Clarke is an outstanding Australian cricket captain who's just led his team to a marvellous and historic win. He doesn't need or deserve that to be tarnished by our error and we of course apologise," said Crawley. "It's obviously a very rare and isolated error on our part, and we'll do our best to ensure it never happens again."

James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, did not defend Clarke, saying the captain needed to remain calm "even in the most highly charged situations".

"Whilst on-field banter and defence of a teammate is as old as the game itself, there can be a fine line between gamesmanship and a Code of Conduct breach," said Sutherland. "All players have a responsibility to manage their emotions even in the most highly charged situations. Michael agrees with this, has accepted the charge and is now entirely focused on the second Test in Adelaide."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mukesh on December 2, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    Why is there so much whining about a little bit of thrash talk , people should understand this is elite sports and not some data analysis job in front of a computer desk , and why single out Australia for that matter , everyone including kohli , anderson and even steyn does it , if someone can shut up and answer it with their game alone like dravid , vvs and sachin did , gr8 ! , but i dont see a big deal in a little bit of talking

  • Jeff on November 30, 2013, 2:33 GMT

    I can understand that many people who have watched more sport than they have played thinking Clarke stepped over the line, but this is 2 of the best cricket playing nations playing an international test match. If the stump mikes were off then no one would even know what was said. Or if Clarke had of been a bit more sneeky with his comments like Anderson, and said them away from the stump mike, again no one would know. I think its great what Michael did and have no problem with any words spoken. If they punched Anderson (tempting) then that is stepping over the line, but as my mum taught me, sticks and stones can break your bones but words cannot ....

  • Dummy on November 27, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    If nine were truly remorseful over the incident they would pay Clarkes fine... did they offer this? No. So, it is hard to believe that there is any real truth or compassion in Crawleys comments, after all, controversial TV makes for good TV doesn't it?

  • richard on November 27, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    Fan1969 on (November 26, 2013, 10:56 GMT) "after a very long time" and to an Aussie it has been a very long time, but the Aussie cricket team have a habit of coming back much quicker than they go away.

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    Paul Marsh is absolutely right! This first Ashes test has returned us to the memory of the glory days of REAL TEST CRICKET in the past! It provided youths who were watching and didn't know, why test is the best format of cricket, by far. It brought out every ingredient of the game that made it so intriguing in the past: the players genuine passion to win; the electric atmosphere for spectators; the long days of mental grind for the players; the sharpness of intellectual and tact needed to outwit and conquer; the required preciseness and accuracy in skill; and the on-field social culture which is not fit for audio; but which caused Michael Clarke's unfortunate betrayal via stump microphones! To be honest, I didn't see any overdone act on the field - it's part of the battle! The line is only crossed, when any two players try to forget that cricket is NOT A CONTACT SPORT. Hence, until we all knew about Trott's unfortunate situation, I think that even Warner's statement was overblown!

  • Nirjhar on November 26, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Test cricket at its best has to include some sledging. As long as the sledge is not on family members, it spices up the contest. No harm in Clarke getting fined as what he said became public. Players will keep away from the mic while sledging!

    It is good to see Australia winning after a long gap.

    As an Indian, I would not conclude that Aus will win the Ashes. Everything that could go right for Australia happened. Johnson was at his best, Warner under pressure performed, Haddin played classic aussie WK rescue act (Gilchrist did it so often) and Clarke got a century.

    Tough times await.

    KP is unlikely to throw his wicket every time. He obliged twice in Brisbane. Cook, Bell, Prior and Root will fight it out. Anderson will hit back along with Broad.

    Australia need to still worry about batting. Watson, Bailey, Rogers and Smith looked out of sorts at times.

    Look forward to the next 4 tests. My prediction 2-2 DRAW after a very long time.

  • Dru on November 26, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    I don't get this - if what Clark said was ok then why the fuss about everyone hearing it. If everyone else hearing it is a problem then what Clark said was wrong. Not sure why we need to have a discussion about it.

    As for the Aussie aggression, there is a difference between being aggressive and ugly and also the Aussie aggression only appears when they are winning. Don't recall any of this aggression from the Aussies for the last few months.

    Aus appear to have this misconception that aggression is a prerequisite for winning. There have been a few teams after the last number one Aussie team but none of them have been aggressive or ugly. Just have a look at SA, the undisputed number one team with #1 batters and bowlers - don't see them being aggressive or angry while hammering all comers!

  • Tony on November 26, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    The paying public should have access to everything and for that matter it is one thing to say, get ready to have your hand broken, and completely another thing to say the f word. what you dont want to say in front of your kid, dont say that to another player, especially opposition player. All matches are watched internationally, and ICC govern things with that mindset. It might be very normal for you guys, but these will be completely un-acceptable in Asia or parts of africa. So behave yourself

  • Im on November 26, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    What a perfect start to the Ashes! This is coming from a Pak fan. I am neutral and currently drawn toward Australia as they are showing the heart to win. Cricket needs this injection of emotion, in a way it shows the players on the pitch really seriously want to win. I miss these one on one face offs between players such as Miandad and Lilly. I cant wait for the next match! Its been a while since I've felt this much anticipation, Is this not what its all about?

  • andrew on November 26, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    @ Sure - but that doesn't make it right. And why do professional tennis players and golfers not feel the need to hurl abuse at each other? I'd say turn up the stump mic and see what the public thinks. In these days of microscopic video analysis I don't see why that same principle shouldn't be extended to the sounds of the game.