The captains of England and Australia are to be hauled before the beak. Jeff Crowe, the match referee in the Ashes series, is to have a word with Alastair Cook and Michael Clarke before the second Test in Adelaide to try to persuade them and their players to be all pals together instead of sledging each other to the ends of the earth.
He will not ban the practice altogether – some hope – though he may tell the chaps to curb their swearing, especially near the stump microphone. On balance, Crowe, an affable chap, might be better advised reminding Channel Nine either not to forget to turn off the gadget between overs, or pull it out altogether.
Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee after the acrimonious first Test in Brisbane when he was overheard saying to Jimmy Anderson: “Get ready for a fucking broken arm”, with Mitchell Johnson scenting blood at the time from the Vulture Street End at The Gabba. This barely amounted to a slap across the wrist and Clarke’s major transgression was being heard.
Not that he could be entirely blamed for that. There is a written agreement with the broadcasters Channel Nine that the stump mic is turned off between overs and on this occasion they forgot. The broadcaster has apologised profusely for its oversight and reminded everyone that Anderson was not picked up threatening to punch the short leg George Bailey.
It is well known that Anderson, a grumpy fast bowler, is a serial sledger and Peter Siddle, his Australian counterpart, said today that there would be more to come.
“Throughout the series there will be more of it going on but it will be under control,” Siddle said. “Anderson brought it on himself. So fair’s fair. There was a lot of other stuff going on and James Anderson was in the thick of it and a culprit for it all happening. He is one of the leading wicket-takers in the world so he is happy to have a chirp but as long as Mitchell Johnson keeps bowling them around his ears that will quieten him up pretty quickly.”
Relations between the sides have plummeted to the lowest ebb. England have become the hapless victims of a bouncer and sledging barrage which saw them stumble to a 381-run defeat in the first Test.
To aggravate their misery, Jonathan Trott, one of their most important batsmen, has left the tour with a stress-related illness. By now, he is back home in Birmingham with his family.
It is the way of professional sport that matters move on quickly and by today Trott was an ex-member of this touring party, if not an ex-England cricketer. But there was genuine sorrow for his plight in Australia and among Australians. James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia sent a goodwill message and Siddle abandoned hostilities awhile.
“Everyone knows what a class player he is. For us it’s a big bonus but for him personally it is disappointing,” he said. "I hope he comes back strong after whatever it is. He is a class player and you want to play against the best players in the world.”
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