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Clarke defends T20 call-off as ECB promise inquiry.

Byline: AFP

MANCHESTER: Australia captain Michael Clarke insisted the umpires were right to call-off the second Twenty20 international against England here at Old Trafford without a ball being bowled.

The day/night match was abandoned after two pitch inspections by umpires Peter Hartley and Nigel Llong, much to the disgust of a 19,500 capacity crowd and the fury of Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes.

Afterwards, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) promised to hold an inquiry into the abandonment, which meant the series ended 0-0 after Sunday s opener at Lancashire headquarters also finished as a no-result washout. Umpires Hartley and Llong decided conditions were so bad there was no prospect of even a five overs per side match, the minimum length required to produce a positive result.

Despite 600,000 pounds being spent on a new ground drainage system during the close season, the bowlers take-off area at the Brian Statham End was deemed unplayable following heavy rain Tuesday.

Afterwards an ECB spokesman said the board would be "holding an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of the match". Clarke, speaking to reporters, said: "We re all disappointed with the result but I think the decision that s been made is the right decision.

"We ve got specialist Twenty20 players that have flown over from Australia to take part in these two games so we really wanted to play." However, he added: "There s no game I play for Australia that I m willing to just go out and bowl some full-tosses so the crowd get a great spectacle. You re representing your country.

"The ground just wasn t fit enough for everybody to play the type of cricket that s played in Twenty20 or any form of cricket." England captain Paul Collingwood backed Clarke s view, saying: "The umpires came up to us and said they think it s unfit for international cricket. When you ve got a lot of people in the crowd, it s a brave call to make but its good they are making those calls.Eoe1/4A[yen] It is entertainment, but you ve got to have the surface in the right condition to play an international game."

But Cumbes was adamant conditions were fit and said different standards needed to be applied to Twenty20, launched professionally in England in 2003 as a means of attracting new fans to cricket.Eoe1/4A[yen] IEoe1/4aom angry, bitterly disappointed," Cumbes told reporters.

"Angry, because to my mind we were told when we started playing Twenty20 cricket several years ago that you should be expected to play in conditions which you wouldn t normally play in first-class cricket."

Cumbes, a former Lancashire pace bowler, added: "I know the umpires have tough decisions to make and I m perfectly aware of the safety of players, Christ I played the game for 20 years myself.

"But there are times when you ve got to think about the people who ve paid 50 quid (pounds) to come into this game.Eoe1/4A[yen] Sometimes I think we d rather play in front of empty stadiums. I really thought when I went out there and had a look at 7pm (1800GMT, the scheduled start time), I thought great we will be out here in half an hour s time ."

Cumbes said Australia pace great Jeff Thomson, working at Old Trafford as a commentator for BBC Radio, said: "I was talking to him (Thomson) about it and he finds it a mystery too.Eoe1/4A[yen] TuesdayEoe1/4aos abandonment left England with just two scheduled Twenty20 internationals, against South Africa, before the World Twenty20 starts in the Caribbean in April.

Meanwhile Australia have just three Twenty20s of their own before that event, one against Pakistan and the other two against the West Indies. Ashes-winners England and Australia now face each other in a seven-match one-day international series starting at the Oval on Friday.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Sep 2, 2009
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