SYDNEY: Skipper Michael Clarke told umpire Aleem Dar not to touch him as the fifth and final Ashes Test ended in an acrimonious draw, Australian media revealed Monday.
Clarke's exchange with the umpires hit the headlines after bad light ended England's dramatic late bid to run down the target set by the tourists' bold second innings declaration which injected life into the encounter at The Oval in London.
England, set 227 to win in 44 overs, needed just 21 off 24 balls with five wickets left when the umpires decided the light, even with the floodlights on, was too dark and ended the match with England taking the series 3-0.
“Michael Clarke asked umpire Aleem Dar to take his hands off him as the final Test ended amid controversy and confusion after one of the most extraordinary days in the history of Ashes cricket,” The Australian's Wayne Smith said.
The daily quoted Clarke as saying: “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.”
Dar had reached out with his left hand to push the Australian captain away.
Clarke later revealed at the post-match presentations that the lux (light) reading was 5.7, “no comparison”, as he put it, to the brighter 8.1 level that had prompted the umpires to call play off in Manchester when Australia had been in control of the Third Test.
“Once they took the reading, I knew it was going to be darker than what it was in Manchester. I was batting at the time in Manchester and I knew it was going to be darker,” Clarke said.
The Australian newspaper said the way the English crowd jeered Clarke was “nothing short of disgraceful” given that their own side had played “nothing but negative cricket at every stage of the match”.
The Daily Telegraph's Malcolm Conn said that umpires had to take a “more pragmatic view” of bad light rulings in future.
“The light that the last hour of the game was played in highlights how farcical it was to come off for bad light earlier in the tour, showing that the umpires must take a more pragmatic view,” Conn said.
“In one of the great ironies of the tour Clarke was booed by the crowd during the presentations despite his declaration saving a dead match. The team that deserved to be booed was England, which crawled along at two runs an over during the third day.”