Australian Test captain Michael Clarke has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee from the fractious Gabba Test after being charged with breaching the International Cricket Council code of conduct.
In a spiteful conclusion to the first Ashes Test, Clarke was captured on a stump microphone telling England’s No.1 niggler but No.11 batsman James Anderson to “get ready for a broken f—ing arm” when he was about to line up to face a rampaging Mitchell Johnson.
He has been found guilty of “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting during an international match”.
Clarke accepted the sanction on Monday morning, and Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said he spoke with the skipper and the pair agreed the incident was regrettable.
“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,” Sutherland said. “All players have a responsibility to manage their emotions even in the most highly charged situations.”
The ICC has been accused of double standards by holding Clarke accountable because his sledge was broadcast on the Nine network, when numerous verbal stoushes throughout the match went unpunished. Nine has apologised for putting Clarke’s comment to air.
The fine came as one of the main protagonists in Brisbane, Australian batsman David Warner, conceded that he went too far in his verballing of the English batsmen.
As relations between the two Ashes teams threatens to reach breaking point by the second Test in Adelaide, former England player and TV commentator David Lloyd claimed Warner’s sledging was “nasty, horrible stuff”.
Writing for The New Daily, former fiery Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg agreed that Warner had gone too far. He said he would encourage the Australian management “to keep David Warner away from the microphone and let his bat do the talking. You don’t say what he said about Jonathan Trott to the media. It’s not right to do that to a fellow competitor.”
England captain Alastair Cook accused Warner of being “disrespectful” for calling Jonathan Trott “weak” for backing away from Mitchell Johnson and saying the visiting batsmen had “scared eyes” in a press conference after day three.
But Lloyd, who normally sympathetic to the hard brand of cricket played by Australia, said Warner had also overstepped the mark in his on-field sledging.
Captains Clarke and Cook were happy to leave on-field stoushes out in the middle, however it’s clear the dislike built-up over back-to-back series has boiled over.
Warner might have acknowledged things went overboard, but made a point of not backing down from his comments.
It seems Australia’s mental disintegration tactics are deliberate.
“I made those comments for a reason,” he said at Brisbane airport on Monday. “Look, yesterday, the bounce and pace got to them again. It is Ashes cricket. Probably went a little bit too far with the comments, but it’s cricket and now it’s in the back of their mind.”
Television editors might have let Clarke’s expletive slip through, but Lloyd said there was a tirade of abuse not picked up on the telecast.
Lloyd, who played nine Tests for England and is a veteran broadcaster, said the Australians, led by Warner had crossed a line.
“We have the benefit of using a stump microphone on Sky which is not allowed to go to air and I have to say that some of the stuff that was going on there went too far,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I’m a big lad who has heard a few things in my time but David Warner in particular came out with some really nasty, horrible stuff. I would like to take him back to 1980 and listen to what he had to say to Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Dessie Haynes.
“Coming right behind them was Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. Banter is great, I listened to enough of it when I played in Australia in 1974-75 … but coarseness is unacceptable.”
Shane Warne, writing for the London Daily Telegraph, described Warner’s comments as “a bit silly”. But he said: “He should have kept them to himself but we cannot have it both ways. We want sportsmen to be interesting and tell us how they feel and it is just the way Davey Warner is. But if you say that kind of stuff you have to be able to cop it back, and he can.”
Warne was more concerned by the puerile behaviour of Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper, which refused to name Stuart Broad in the lead-up to the match or even name him after his exceptional first innings bowling.
“I know the English press can be pretty brutal, but the thing I don’t like about the Australia press is they go on and on and get very personal about stuff. What they did to Broad and the England team was childish, immature and it was embarrassing for Australians to watch it going on,” he wrote.
“Sadly it was no surprise because the Australian press are the worst in the world. They are never fair and I think the Australian public have been disappointed with how they treated the English team. There was no need for it and it also backfired spectacularly because Broad responded by bowling well.”
The Daily Telegraph’s cricket correspondent, former England Test all-rounder Derek Pringle, said utterances such as that made by Clarke “may sound boorish but they have been around since WG Grace’s day”.
He also pointed out that, 20 years ago, Michael Atherton said in a newspaper interview that Steve Waugh was so scared of fast bowling that you could “see it running down his leg”. “Waugh made England pay in the best way possible by making runs and helping Australia to win the Ashes.”