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July 13, 2013
With deed and then word, Australia's captain Michael Clarke has ruled a line under the debate that surrounded Stuart Broad's decision not to walk in the second innings of the Trent Bridge Ashes Test. Clarke himself declined to depart after none other than Broad procured a thin edge to Matt Prior behind the stumps as the tourists slid badly in their chase of 311 to win.
Afterwards he said that while the Australians had been frustrated by failing to secure Broad's wicket, there was little case for directing their anger towards the England No. 8. Clarke even referred to the concept of "getting away with" standing your ground and forcing an umpire to deliberate, something he has done several times himself in the past with varied results.
"We would've liked him out for a lot less that's for sure, but that's the way the game goes," Clarke said of Broad. "I'm not going to go back there. There's no need, it's the game of cricket. There's ups and downs, good times, bad times. Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don't. That's what I've seen through my career and that's the way it goes."
Clarke also offered unabashed support to Broad on Sky TV. "I've always been a believer that umpires are there to take decisions," he said. "If everybody walked, we wouldn't need umpires. It is an individual decision but I don't think any less of Stuart for what he did."
Regarding his own dismissal, Clarke said he had been unsure of whether he hit the ball or not, having also brushed bat with pad. His consultation with the non-striker Steven Smith better reflected the 21st century conventions of dismissals in the DRS era than much of the commentary surrounding the question of walking that has sprung up since Broad also stood his ground.
"Obviously not - I referred it," Clarke said. "Well, I knew I had hit my pad. I asked my partner up the other end and he certainly wasn't convinced I hit it either so I referred it. Actually when we both looked at the big screen we couldn't see anything, so we were pretty pumped that we made the right decision. Then I was given out and had another look when I came in the change room and there was a little spot there on Hot Spot. That's the way it goes. That's how the review system operates.
"I've said to our team that if you feel you're not out then back your judgement. And if the review doesn't go your way we move on. I'm not going to go into the DRS at the moment. We're using it. Both teams are using it. It's the same for both teams. We have no excuses at the moment. I'm certainly not going to use DRS as one."
Clarke also offered an extraordinary endorsement of the 19-year-old debutant Ashton Agar. Clearly impressed after watching Agar's treatment of Graeme Swann during his startling, world record 98 at No. 11 in the first innings, Clarke declared Agar to be among the best players of spin to enter the Australia dressing room in years.
Clarke explained that he had batted Agar at No. 11 in the first innings to help ease a nervous debutant into the match. But it seems inconceivable now that Agar will ever do so again for any team. His poise was on display a second time as he hung on stubbornly in the company of Brad Haddin to reach stumps on day four, Australia still needing 137 runs on the final day.
"He's as good a player against spin as we've had in the Australian team for a long time, so I think he'll certainly look forward to facing Swanny tomorrow," Clarke said. "He is definitely not a No. 11 in any team in the world. I batted him there in the first innings only so that he could find his feet in Test match cricket and get into the game. He showed he was ready.
"I thought it was the right thing to let him get into the game slowly, but he obviously proved me wrong there, he batted beautifully."
Apart from Agar, Phillip Hughes in the first innings and a composed opening stand by Shane Watson and Chris Rogers on the fourth afternoon, Australia's batsmen have largely failed to cope with the pressure imposed by England in Nottingham, even if Alastair Cook's side have not sustained it for anywhere near as long as Australia managed. Clarke said the falling of wickets in clusters could be attributed to conditions that England's batsman Ian Bell spoke of in subcontinental terms.
"I think that's the conditions in the UK to be honest," Clarke said. "Especially when you've got a wicket that is quite dry so you've got reverse swing and a lot of spin. I think it's these sort of conditions where if you get in it's about cashing in, going on to big scores, because it is a hard place to start.
"We've spoken about it as a batting unit. It's not from lack of work, the boys have been working extremely hand for the start of their innings and we're as well prepared as we can be. I think we've put up a really good fight so far and I'm excited about tomorrow."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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