Cricket: Burge increases pressure on Atherton

Peter Burge, the International Cricket Council referee, has contravened his ICC brief and given an interview to an Australian newspaper in which he discusses Michael Atherton's conduct last summer. On Atherton's 'economy with the truth' over the dirt in the pocket affair, Burge said: 'If you cannot take the word of the England captain, who the hell do you believe?

What has cricket come to? What he did was, and still is, a mystery. No one has given me a satisfactory explanation.' On Atherton's reaction at The Oval, for which he was fined pounds 1,250, Burge says: 'When Mike Atherton picks up his bat after being given out lbw and hits it with his hand that is dissent because he's telling 16,000 people 'this bloke has made a mistake'.

Umpires should not have to cop that.' Keith Fletcher, the England coach, was not best pleased. 'I don't think a match referee should make any further comment on his decisions,' he said. Australia slumped to a nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan in a one-day international in Rawalpindi yesterday.

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