x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Michael Clarke comes to the umpires' defence

Officials on the ground are doing their best despite errors, says Australia captain after first Test against South Africa ends in draw.

Michael Clarke, left, the Australia captain, said the umpires were right to make extra sure their decisions were accurate in Brisbane. Dave Hunt / EPA
Michael Clarke, left, the Australia captain, said the umpires were right to make extra sure their decisions were accurate in Brisbane. Dave Hunt / EPA

Technology tormented the bowlers in the drawn opening Test between Australia and South Africa with a trio of dismissals overturned by no-ball reviews.

Three times at the Gabba a wicket was denied -two for Australia and one for the Proteas – by the third umpire's technology after the bowler marginally overstepped with his front foot.

There was a flashpoint on Tuesday's final day when the South African batsman Hashim Amla, on seven, chopped a James Pattinson delivery on to his stumps as the tourists were under pressure at 26 for one.

Pattinson's heel was judged just over the popping crease after replays and the third umpire made the correct call to reprieve Amla.

Fellow Australian paceman Peter Siddle was denied in the same manner against Jacques Kallis on day one while the Proteas fast bowler Morne Morkel was the victim of a dubious call when Ed Cowan gloved down the leg-side late on day three.

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, while surprised at the number of contentious no-balls, backed the umpires.

"I think it makes sense. Any time you bowl a no-ball front foot it should be picked up," he said.

"The umpires on the ground are doing their best, they're probably making extra sure when a wicket falls so I'd rather see them picked up than guys bowling the no-balls and getting away with the wicket.

"For there to be so many there must have been reasons. We have been quite disciplined with our no-ball front foots, we work hard at training on it, and we'll continue to do that with preparation for Adelaide [the second Test]."

The number of no-balls proved a bigger problem for South Africa as Morkel also had another wicket – when Clarke was on 135 on his way to an unbeaten 259 – denied when he edged behind on day four.

The Proteas bowlers overstepped 23 times in Australia's first innings of 565 for five declared while Australia bowled six no-balls as the Proteas made 450. "No-balls played a big role in the game," said Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain.

"From our perspective, it's not acceptable and the guys know that. There's a good personal responsibility there and it's something that needs to be improved upon."

Clarke praised his team's character after they fought back from a miserable start to a position where they were eyeing and unlikely victory on Tuesday. Clarke's imperious innings fired Australia's recovery and although ultimately the South Africans batted out the day for a draw, the hosts have the momentum in the three-Test series.

"The team showed a lot of character after day one," said the 31 year old. "I wish we had a bit of play on that washed out day, but I think the boys deserve a lot of credit for their attitude. Our intent was the way it needs to be when you are playing against such a good team."

Smith said South Africa had a few things to work on.

"There's enough time to reflect and to get one or two things right for Adelaide," he said.

"I felt we were ahead of the game going into day four, 40 for three, we just never quite backed up well enough on day four."


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