ACA boss: 'Don't curb players' aggression'

Australia

Australia Cricketers' Association chief Paul Marsh says trying to curb players' aggression is the wrong strategy, and that Michael Clarke's punishment for sledging was harsh and unfair, given the circumstances.

Australia Cricketers' Association chief Paul Marsh says trying to curb players' aggression is the wrong strategy, and that Michael Clarke's punishment for sledging was harsh and unfair, given the circumstances.

Clarke was fielding close to England batsman James Anderson during the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, and told him to 'get ready for a f***ing broken arm' as he was facing a fired-up Mitchell Johnson.

The stump microphone, which should have been turned off at the time, was mistakenly left on and broadcast the sledge, resulting in Clarke being punished by the ICC for a code of conduct breach.

This enraged Marsh, who said aggression was part of the game, especially during the Ashes, and the umpires wouldn't have done anything about the matter if it hadn't been broadcast.

Marsh told <i>ESPNcricinfo</i>: "That's how we play our best cricket. To be aggressive on the field is what I think the Australian cricket team needs to do and I thought it was terrific that they did that.

"I think the majority of the Australian public were very buoyed by the way they played, the aggression they showed on the field, so I hope there's no attempt to rein them in.

"We all know there is a line, and not for one minute am I saying the players should cross that line, but I think there's nothing wrong with aggressive cricket, not just what you say but how you go about it.

"The fast bowling in this match was first-rate and the players showed they weren't going to take a backward step. The words of the English players would suggest they were more than comfortable with what was said out on the pitch."

Marsh went on to say that Channel Nine, the broadcasters who neglected to turn the stump mic's sound down during the break, were responsible for the situation, and most of the time comments like this don't get picked up and the game carries on.

He said: "The broadcasters of the game have a significant responsibility when they're using stump mic. The players put a lot of trust in them that things that are said on the field remain on the field – most times they get that right.

"But it's still disappointing and not acceptable to us that these types of incidents make their way into viewers' living rooms, because the players agreed to have stump mics and the accessibility they give all the broadcasters around the world on the proviso that it is used responsibly.

"If, as it appears, Michael's copped a fine because of the audio that was heard in people's living rooms that shouldn't have been heard, then it's very disappointing. I've written to CA this morning and had a response from them around the issue.

"These things have happened a few times over the years and it's something the broadcasters have expressed remorse over historically, and they're remorseful again, but it doesn't really help Michael Clarke in this situation."

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