Botham calls Phillip Hughes a cheat


Few things excite the cream flannelled cricket establishment quite like accusations of cheating.

So when Ian Botham, the erstwhile former England all-rounder, described Phil Hughes as a cheat during TV commentary on Wednesday when the Australian fielder appealed for a catch to dismiss Alastair Cook on 99, it was bound to stir up debate about technology and how it used to aid umpires.

England batsman Ian Bell later referred a caught behind decision to the TV umpire, who decided there wasn’t enough evidence to support umpire Aleem Dar’s call. Dar heard a noise when the ball from Shane Watson passed between bat and pad of Bell, who was on 67 at the time.

Turns out, some other technology showed Bell did lightly snick it on the way through to the wicketkeeper.

Regardless, both English batsmen went on to score their hundreds.

The first question asked of Michael Clarke in the post-stumps news conference was about Botham’s comments.

Clarke immediately leaped to the defence of Hughes. He also rejected any inference that Bell had cheated, either. “I can guarantee one thing – Phillip Hughes is not a cheat,” Clarke said. “He’s a wonderful young guy. That’s a bit harsh for Ian to say that about Phillip, he’s not that sort of guy.”

Cook clipped a ball from Michael Beer toward Hughes, who was fielding at bat-pad. Hughes grabbed the ball just as it appeared to hit the grass, claiming the catch. He appealed, but told teammates he wasn’t sure he’d got his fingers under it before the ball bounced. Clarke told the umpire, who referred the decision to the TV umpire.

Cook stayed at the crease, unmoved. “Obviously it was very close and to be fair to Phil Hughes he said straight away, ‘I wasn’t sure,’” Cook said. “I, obviously, was going to hang around. On 99 you’re not going to walk off very quickly, you’re going to be dragged off. They went upstairs and obviously again I think the right decision was made.”

Cook had a reprieve the previous day, on 46, when he was caught mistiming a Beer delivery, only for umpire Billy Bowden to refer the decision to the TV umpire when he suspected a no-ball. Replays showed Beer had overstepped the mark. Cook was eventually out for 189.

Bell’s decision was less clear. The TV umpire can watch replays, and also has access to a system called ‘hot spot,’ which is supposed to highlight any contact between bat and ball in borderline decisions. Hot spot didn’t show any conclusive contact. However, another system called ‘Snicko’, which relies on audio and is used by the Australian cricket broadcaster for illustrative purposes, is not accessible to the match officials. Snicko indicated Bell did get a light edge to the ball.

The crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground booed loudly when Bell was given not out. And again when he was finally dismissed, caught at second slip by Clarke for 115.

Clarke said he had to accept the call. “We thought there was an inside edge. We appealed that, it was referred. Technology says … Ian didn’t hit the ball. I certainly don’t think Ian is a cheat,” for referring the decision, Clarke said. “It’s the same for both teams and I actually said that out there to Bell.”

Clarke said he didn’t think hot spot was particularly consistent, but the results went both ways.

“I’m sure there’s been plenty of cases when we’ve been batting and the same thing’s happened, so it’s just about accepting the decision and getting on with it,” said Clarke, who supports the use of technology to help the umpires reach decisions and urged the International Cricket Council to either make it mandatory in Test cricket for all countries, or not use it at all.

At the moment, teams are allowed to decide on the use of video referrals on a series by series basis.

“I don’t believe anybody would refer a decision if they thought they’d hit it. Sorry, I’d find it very hard to believe anybody would do that,” he said. “I think Ian wasn’t sure, and that’s why he referred it.

“I would like it to be 100 per cent right. But there are not many things in the world that are. There’s going to be some inconsistent areas. And sometimes it’s frustrating, don’t get me wrong, but both teams are dealing with the same issues.”
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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