England has a wee party
Australian coach Darren Lehmann says the umpires could have handled better the tense finale to the fifth Test that led to play being abandoned for bad light and Michael Clarke in a physical confrontation with Pakistani official Aleem Dar.
Dar was seen to push the visiting captain away from him and fellow umpire Kumar Dharmasena as they checked the reading on a light meter that would lead them seconds later, at 7.36pm, to call off the day’s play with the Test ending in a draw and England taking the series 3-0.
England at the time were only 21 runs short of victory, with four overs remaining following a sporting declaration at tea from Clarke that left the hosts a target of 227 from 44 overs.
Clarke was frustrated at the time it took for the light meter to be brought onto the ground by fourth official Richard Kettleborough, believing conditions were significantly darker than when a day’s play was stopped on the fourth afternoon of the third Test at Old Trafford, when he was batting.
The International Cricket Council is likely to review the altercation between Dar and Clarke, who asked the umpire not to touch him.
”It could have been handled better by the umpires,” Lehmann said. ”But at the end of the day we’ve had light issues throughout the series. If you’ve got a reading you’ve got to take it.”
Clarke and the umpires were booed at the presentation afterwards by the home fans but Lehmann was quick to remind them that it was his captain’s ploy that allowed the last session of the series to be so engaging rather than simply fizzle out to a draw.
”We were quite happy to lose a game to set up the game,” Lehmann said. ”English fans have been great all summer but to come out and see that on the last day I think it is outstanding from Michael and the set-up that we tried to do. That’s the brand of cricket we want to play. We want to push the boundaries.”
Explaining the contact with Dar, Clarke said: ”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.”
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.
However, the 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,” he said.
Australia have gone nine matches without a win, a streak that stretches back to January, and dropped to fifth in the world Test rankings behind Pakistan, but Lehmann hopes they can turn it around in the return Ashes series this summer.
”I think it’s that learning-to-win attitude,” said Lehmann, who only took over as coach and selector a fortnight before the series. ”That’s what we tried to do [on Sunday]. We want to keep challenging our players in those situations to get better, learn from the mistakes we make. We’re going to make mistakes, we understand that. But we’ve got to improve from there.”
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