Sydney: Acting Australia captain Michael Clarke flatly rejected claims that teammate Phillip Hughes attempted to cheat England’s Alastair Cook out of his third century of the series at the final Sydney Ashes Test on Wednesday.
English Test great Ian Botham, commentating on television, called close-in fielder Hughes a cheat for claiming a catch that was subsequently proved to have hit the
ground just in front of his hands when Cook was on 99.
Cook, who went on to make 189 in England’s 488 for seven third day total, also defended Hughes against cheating allegations.
"That’s a bit harsh," Clarke told a post-play press conference. "I can guarantee you one thing: Phillip Hughes is not a cheat. He’s a wonderful young guy. The end result was spot on.
"Hughesy wasn’t sure. (Wicketkeeper) Brad Haddin, who saw the ball clearly, wasn’t sure. We made that quite clear to the umpires.
"The umpires obviously referred the catch, checked it. I haven’t seen the replays. But it must have come up clear that the ball bounced. And the right result was made.
"I think that’s a bit harsh from Ian to say that about Phillip. He’s certainly not that kind of guy at all."
It was Cook’s second close shave of his innings – both off debutant spinner Michael Beer.
Beer celebrated what he thought was his first Test wicket late on yesterday when Cook, then on 46, skied to Ben Hilfenhaus at deep mid-on only for umpire Billy Bowden to ask for the third umpire to check on a suspected no-ball.
Replays showed the spinner had overstepped and Cook batted on.
Cook, who extended his series aggregate to 766 at 127.66, also supported Hughes against any impropriety.
"To be fair to Phil Hughes (he) said straight away that he wasn’t sure (of the catch)," he said.
"I obviously was going to hang around on 99, you’re not going to walk off too quickly, you have to be dragged off.
"He said he wasn’t sure, they went upstairs and I think the right decision was made."
Cook, who has been a chief beneficiary of technology decisions during the series, said the right decisions had been reached.
"At the end of the day the right decision was made on all of them," he said.
"I think that one in Adelaide when I was hit on the arm I was given out and I referred it and the lbw one which I clearly hit in Melbourne.”
"At the moment I’m thinking it’s looking after me, but I’m sure there will be another time where I am being given not out, it is referred and you then have to walk off and that’s when you have to take your medicine, you then can’t complain
"I think some times you get a little bit lucky along the way and little things have gone my way on this trip and I’m really grateful for that."
Cook again was a tower of mental strength and batted for over eight hours and faced 342 balls.
He has now occupied the crease for almost 36 hours in the series -- equivalent to six days’ play.
He was denied his second double-century of the series after his unbeaten 235 in the first Brisbane Test. He also scored 148 in Adelaide.