Australia captain Michael Clarke apologises for spat with South Africa bowler Dale Steyn and admits he was 'out of line'

It is not the first time Clarke has been involved in an on-field dispute but he has taken responsibility for the disagreement

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The Independent Online

Captain Michael Clarke has apologised and admitted he was “out of line” following a confrontation with South Africa paceman Dale Steyn in the final moments of Australia's series-clinching third Test win in Cape Town.

Clarke stepped in after Steyn and James Pattinson became embroiled in an altercation as the Test entered its final hour on Wednesday.

At that stage Australia still needed two wickets, after being held back by a stoic South Africa rearguard for almost four sessions.

Eventually Ryan Harris broke through, removing Steyn and Morne Morkel with less than five overs to go in the match, but amid the elation of victory Clarke admitted he had let himself down.

"Do you know what? Honestly, if anybody was out of line it was me and I apologise to the opposition player I was out of line to," Clarke said at the post-match press conference.

"A player who I have the utmost respect for, who tries to kill me every time I bat, who batted exceptionally well - I was out of line.

"If any player on either team, it was me who was out of line.

"Let's just say he (Steyn) got me at a bad time. We just had a decision that didn't go our way that I would have liked to have seen go our way but that's the game.

"Certainly as captain of your country you've got to be able to cop that on the chin."

Clarke courted controversy during the Ashes when he was caught on a stump mic telling England tailender James Anderson to "get ready for a broken f****** arm" as he prepared to face up to Mitchell Johnson.

"I seem to make this mistake a few times but I jumped in after him," Clarke said.

"It doesn't matter what happened, what I said was something out of character and I apologise for that. I shouldn't have said what I said."

Clarke was also forced to defend his team after umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Aleem Dar were moved to speak to him on field, after Australia repeatedly threw the ball in to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on the bounce.

The tactic is used to scuff the ball, and promote reverse swing.

That was a hot topic during the series after opener David Warner questioned how South Africa were able to get the ball to reverse on way to wining the second Test in Port Elizabeth.

Clarke confirmed the umpires had spoken to him about the matter on the field.

"The umpires were up me about a few things. That was one of them," he said.

"I always believed that if you're in the ring you should be throwing the ball on the full because it's a 20-metre throw. If the guys are on the boundary you can accept that some guys can't throw it that far.

"Whatever criticism we cop for that I'm more than happy to cop but I think our players understand there is a line and we know not to overstep that.

"We were asked by the umpires to make sure we were throwing the ball on the full and I think we accepted that and listened to that."