Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, has praised Michael Clarke for the restraint he showed throughout the incident with Chris Gayle during Wednesday's match between Australia and West Indies in Mumbai. Gayle was later fined 30% of his match fee for a code one breach for failing to "conduct play within the spirit of the game", a decision which Ponting welcomed.
"I think it was handled in the right way," Ponting was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald. "If you look at the incidents, Pup [Clarke] nearly needs to be congratulated on the way he handled the whole thing. There's no doubt he had a few words to say but Gayle was the one who was in his personal space and dragging the whole thing out the way he did. Pup handled it brilliantly, and I think it was a pretty fair result to come out of it."
The incident happened during Australia's run-chase when Clarke and Adam Gilchrist were involved in a significant partnership. Gayle continually made comments directed at Clarke, and at one stage even conceded four overthrows off his own bowling when a throw at the batsman's end went over the wicketkeeper's head. It was later suggested that Clarke had sparked off the incident when he called Gayle a "second-class citizen", a claim which Clarke denied. "If anyone is second-class it's me, I'm from Liverpool," Clarke, who grew up in the working-class Sydney suburb, said. "I didn't say that - I wouldn't say that - and neither did any of my team-mates." While Gayle was fined, Clarke was found not guilty of any code violation.
The ICC clarified that the decision to report the incident had only been made the morning after the game, and not immediately after the match finished. The delay led to speculation that Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, may have intervened to order charges be laid, but an ICC spokesman said in this case the three umpires had "slept on it" before deciding to charge both players with contravening the spirit of cricket.