New Delhi: Australian captain Michael Clarke's fight against time to play in the first Test against India got his grade club captain in trouble on Saturday. After sending them in to bat first at Kings Oval by Parramatta, Western Suburbs skipper Jeff Cook declared their innings at 0-17, one ball shy of 10 completed overs.
It prompted regional cricket body, New South Wales Cricket to launch an investigation in the matter. NSW Cricket, chief executive Andrew Jones said in a statement, “We understand Wests may have taken this action to increase the probability of Australian captain Michael Clarke batting in the second week of the game.”
Jones, who himself is aware of the importance of Clarke's presence in the national side, emphasised the fact that integrity of the game is paramount. “While Cricket NSW and the Sydney Cricket Association are conscious of the broader interest of Australian cricket, and appreciate the thinking behind this gesture, we are also conscious of the need to main the integrity of the Sydney Grade competition,” he added.
But, it is for sure the grade club captain will go through the rigours of explaining his actions as the regional body will investigate the matter. “Consequently we will investigate the full facts and evaluate Wests’ actions at the conclusion of the round,” confirmed Jones.
For Cook, all he could do was to justify his action. He said, “All I wanted to do was the best for Michael Clarke and Australia... I stand by what I wanted to do.”
Clarke, who is battling to prove his fitness for the first Test against India starting December 4, was initially ruled out of taking part in this weekend’s club cricket and the next round of Sheffield Shield matches beginning Tuesday. But Wests nominated Clarke only for the second day of the match, listing him to bat at No. 7.
Unluckily, they lost the toss and were asked to bat first, thus prompting Cook to declare at a laughable score of 0-17. Clarke missed the opening day's action but club skipper was planning to give him an outing when the two-day match continue next Saturday.
Then to the dismay of Wests' plans, Parramatta also decided to close their innings soon, at 2-140.