| Michael Clarke during a training session, at Chester-le-Street, on Thursday. (AP) |
Chester-le-Street: England captain Alastair Cook has dismissed a report suggesting players apply silicone tape to their bats in a bid to avoid edges showing on hot-spot as “a whole load of rubbish”.
Australian broadcaster Channel Nine made the claim — the England and Wales Cricket Board has since demanded “an explanation and an apology” — midway through an Ashes series riddled with Decision Review System (DRS) controversies.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen was quick to reject the report and Cook echoed his view, telling the media: “Clearly there are some people at home trying to think up some theories. All this stuff about silicone edges, obviously that’s a whole load of rubbish.
“Players have been using tape on their bats for years to protect the bats and make them last longer.
“The whole story needs to be rubbished because it was rubbish. I don’t want to give it any more miles.”
England will bid to complete the second half of their Ashes mission when they face arch-rivals Australia in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street starting Friday.
The drawn third Test at Old Trafford left England an unassailable 2-0 up in the series with two to play and meant they’d retained the Ashes.
On the issue of DRS, and the way it is being implemented, Cook added: “I don’t know whether it’s just Ashes cricket and something always seems to happen... it has worked really well in the past and the bottom line is it has been getting more decisions right.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke, meanwhile, was upbeat on Thursday about Ryan Harris’ prospects of featuring in the fourth Ashes Test despite the paceman’s poor fitness record.
“In my mind I’m confident Ryano will be fine,” Clarke said Thursday. “Us not bowling on that last day because of the rain is definitely going to help our bowlers.
“If he is (fit) I think he should definitely be selected. He’s a fantastic bowler, his record (58 Test wickets at 22.56) shows that, and I think we've seen throughout this series how important he is to our team.”
As for the 26-year-old Bird’s prospects of being selected for his first Test appearance since facing Sri Lanka at Sydney in January, Clarke said he would be treated like anyone else.
“I don’t think anyone is here to ‘give them a go’. That’s not in any Test cricket and certainly not an Ashes series, especially the position we’re sitting in now. It’s about picking your best 11 players.”
Clarke said he was happy to have flexibility in Australia’s batting order.
“I read a little bit about what Boof (Australia coach Darren Lehmann) said on Wednesday and I agree with that.
“We’ve got options. Davey Warner has opened the batting in every Test match apart from one innings in his Test career and averaged close to 40.
“Chris Rogers has done really well and opened the batting his whole career in first-class cricket and so far for Australia.
“Watto’s (Watson’s) preferred position, he finds what best suits him is opening the batting as well. We have got so many openers, which is a good problem to have.”
It took England just 14 days to hold on to the urn this time around — the quickest they’ve settled an Ashes series in their favour since the end of the Second World War.
However, England coach Andy Flower was far from satisfied. “I suppose it is (a great achievement). But for me it’s all about winning this series, so it is still alive with two Tests to go,” he said. (Agencies)