Michael Clarke’s altercation with umpire a touchy subject

Scorecard / As it happenedClarke booed after farcical finishClarke takes leaf out of England’s book

Michael Clarke has explained his angry reaction to being pushed away by umpire Aleem Dar at the climax of the fifth Ashes Test, saying he had asked the Pakistani official not to touch him.

The Australian captain remonstrated with umpires as light faded on Sunday evening at the Oval with England 5-206 and requiring 21 runs from the four remaining overs to clinch a 4-0 series win.

Dar was seen to push Clarke away from him and fellow umpire Kumar Dharmasena, who were checking the reading on the light meter that would lead them seconds later to abandon the day’s play with the Test ending in a draw and England taking the series 3-0.

Clarke was loudly booed by the capacity crowd during the presentation ceremony afterwards despite having made the bold declaration at tea that set up the chance of a result either way rather than a dull draw. A total of 17 wickets fell on an eventful day.

Clarke later explained his altercation with Dar.

“I can’t remember what I said. I remember Aleem touching me and I asked him politely to not touch me because if I touched him I’d be suspended for three matches,” Clarke said. “That’s all I can remember, coincidentally.

“From my point of view I have no issue. I just know a player is not allowed to touch an umpire but for me personally I have no issue with it at all.”

Clarke had been furious during the third Test at Old Trafford when umpires called off the fourth day’s play for bad light when he was batting. The light meter reading at the Oval on Sunday was 5.7 while at Manchester it was 8.1 – the lower the figure, the darker the conditions.

Despite the anti-climax the umpires followed the regulations on light to the letter of cricket’s laws when they stopped play at 7.36pm. They were left with no option but to abandon the match when the light meter reading dropped to a level matching or below the figure that led to play being called off on day two last Thursday at 7.26pm. This was despite the floodlights being on.

“Once they took the reading, I knew it was going to be darker than what it was in Manchester,” Clarke said. “No comparison. I’m not going to get into the numbers. I think I did up there (on the presentation stage). I will probably get in trouble for it so I won’t go into the number.

“For us, we just have to go by the umpires’ call. If they think it is safe to keep playing then we keep playing.”

Clarke had voiced his frustration with umpires in the overs preceding that as England closed on what would have been an extraordinary victory. Fast bowler Peter Siddle complained that he had lost sight of the ball while fielding in the deep shortly before the light meter was brought on by fourth official Richard Kettleborough.

“I just asked the question ‘why we haven’t got the meter out here’ and it took a few overs to get it out,” Clarke said.

“When you can see your own shadows, just going on what’s happened in the past throughout this series, you know it’s getting to around that time when umpires have consistently taken us off the field.”

Booed by many in a full house of about 25,000 at the Oval on hand to see Alastair Cook’s side presented with the Ashes trophy and the replica urn but denied the bonus of another unlikely England win Clarke said: “It doesn’t surprise me.”

“Look, that’s the way I’d like to see cricket played and I’d certainly like to lead the Australian team playing in that type of manner. We had nothing to lose, obviously 3-0 down.”

However, chairman of the English and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, said after the match that the laws regarding bad light must change.

“It is totally unsatisfactory the way the game ended – the rules are unacceptable and I expect [ICC general manager] Dave Richardson to change it at the next ICC chief executives meeting,” said Giles Clarke.

Cook said he had no issue with the umpires’ decision, although could understand the reaction of the crowd, having watched a scintillating 62 from 55 balls from Kevin Pietersen careered the hosts towards a thrilling win.

“Of course you understand the frustration, but you can also understand the other side,” Cook said. “You understand the rules and regs, unfortunately the officials sometimes have to take the emotion out of the game and do their job and be consistently fair to both sides.

“It’s disappointing to be sitting here when we felt we could have taken those runs off the last four overs but I understand the umps’ decision and why it happened.

“If it was the third day no one would be moaning about it. If the boot was on the other foot we’d probably be asking the same questions. It was a shame for the amazing crowd we’ve had here. But we weren’t allowed to play to the finish. There are certain guidelines and that’s the way cricket has gone.”

Clarke had rolled the dice by batting for only 23 overs in Australia’s second innings before declaring for a second time in the match.

“To me, even if you weren’t 3-0 down you got to do everything you can to try and win the Test match. There’s obviously the risk of losing and that was there today as well but I think it was what we had to try and do,” he said.

“The result is there, England have won 3-0. I think today we didn’t have anything to lose so it was about trying to set a game. England certainly deserve credit for the way they came out in the second innings and tried to win the game.”

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