John Buchanan, the Australian coach, has admitted that his players tend to lose their composure in the heat of battle. His comments came in the wake of a bitter confrontation between Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan on the fourth evening of the fourth Test against West Indies at Antigua.
"It happens to us occasionally when either individuals or the other side basically confronts us in a sense of challenging the emotions of the players and ... we tend to lose our composure," Buchanan told a Sydney radio station. "When it happens we tend to move away from game plans and at that particular point teams can take advantage of that and that's partly what happened today.
"There are times where we can't be the side we'd like to be 100 percent of the time. While we would like to do that, we're actually human, we're fallible."
The incident was sparked off following a remark by Sarwan, which McGrath thought had been made about his wife Jane, who is undergoing treatment for cancer. An explosive mid-pitch tirade followed, forcing David Shepherd to intervene.
The Australian players sought to play down the incident - Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer shook Sarwan's hand later, while Adam Gilchrist told Australian Associated Press that the incident had been blown out of proportion.
"It's no bigger issue than any other moments that get heated and there are comments made. Some people may want to make a bigger deal of it but it's something we accept playing international cricket that it's going to happen. But relations between the two sides have been terrific."
The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) was clearly unimpressed by Gilchrist's argument. James Sutherland, chief executive of the ACB, said that he spoke to Waugh and both agreed that the incident bordered on inappropriate behaviour. "It's all very well to be playing the game in the right spirit when things are going your way, but if things are not going your way, that's when the real test is on. If you can't carry yourself in the true spirit of the game at those times, perhaps you need to have a good look at yourself."
Sutherland said that the players need to remind themselves of their responsibilities as Australia's sporting ambassadors. "They are ambassadors for their country and the game of cricket and they need to carry themselves in an appropriate manner. In this circumstance, there's no doubt that what I saw on my television this morning was not what I would have liked to have woken up to."
He clarified that the ACB, however, would not be taking any action against McGrath. "The umpires in this game are two very experienced umpires. They know what powers they have under the code of conduct and if they thought it appropriate, I'm sure they would have taken action."