Costly words: Australian captain Michael Clarke berates James Anderson of England live on air. Photo: Getty Images
Channel Nine apologised to Michael Clarke on Monday night after the Australian captain was charged and fined by the International Cricket Council for a verbal tirade at England tailender James Anderson that was picked up by the broadcaster’s stump microphone and aired to millions of viewers.
Clarke told Anderson to “get ready for a broken f—ing arm” as the England No.11 prepared to face a hostile Mitchell Johnson late on Sunday at the Gabba, where Australia thrashed the visitors in the first Ashes Test.
He was charged with a breach of Article 2.1.4 of the ICC Code of Conduct relating to “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting during an international match” and fined 20 per cent of his match fee, or about $ 3000.
The charge was brought by umpire Kumar Dharmasena and third umpire Marais Erasmus, and Clarke on Monday admitted the offence to match referee Jeff Crowe.
However, he would almost certainly never been sanctioned had his comment to Anderson, a prominent sledger himself, not been broadcast around the world.
Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh sought an explanation on Monday as to how the incident was broadcast, and Nine later issued an apology to the Test captain.
Anderson’s remarks in the verbal confrontation were not heard by viewers but because Clarke, who also wagged his finger in the fast bowler’s direction, had been standing almost directly over the stumps when he returned serve at the England quick, it went to air.
It emerged that Clarke had also been undone in that respect because Nine, with the match reaching a conclusion, had not gone to a commercial break as it usually would after an over, and the audio faders were accidentally left up.
“It’s obviously a very rare and isolated error on our part, and we’ll do our best to ensure it never happens again,” Nine’s head of sport Steve Crawley said. “He an outstanding Australian cricket captain who’s just led his team to a marvellous and historic win. He doesn’t need or deserve that to be tarnished by our error, and we of course apologise.”
Players’ union chief Marsh earlier said he was not pleased that due to the technical oversight Clarke’s comment was not left on the ground.
“Channel Nine do a fantastic job of broadcasting the cricket but we’re really disappointed on this occasion that what should have happened on the field was broadcast to millions of living rooms, and one our key players and captain ends up getting sanctioned and, in some respects, attention that I don’t think was warranted,” Marsh said.
“It’s not the biggest issue we’ll deal with but we think it could have been avoided and should have been.”
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland also weighed in.
“Michael and I have spoken as we do after most Test matches. After such an outstanding performance as captain and a player, we agree that the incident is regrettable,” Sutherland said.
“Whilst on-field banter and defence of a teammate is as old as the game itself, there can be a fine line between gamesmanship and a Code of Conduct breach.
“All players have a responsibility to manage their emotions, even in the most highly charged situations. Michael agrees with this, has accepted the charge and is now entirely focused on the second Test in Adelaide.”
Cricket broadcasters employ operators who turn the stump microphone audio down between deliveries, and it is clear there is a lot more being said between Australia and England than has been aired.
“We have the benefit of using a stump microphone on Sky which is not allowed to go to air, and I have to say that some of the stuff that was going on there went too far,” former England cricketer and commentator David Lloyd wrote in his column for Britain’s Daily Mail.
“I’m a big lad who has heard a few things in my time but David Warner in particular came out with some really nasty, horrible stuff. I would like to take him back to 1980 and listen to what he had to say to Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Dessie Haynes.
“Coming right behind them was Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. Banter is great – I listened to enough of it when I played in Australia in 1974-75 – but coarseness is unacceptable.”