Sydney: Test cricket's top-rated batsman Adam Gilchrist has been let off with a reprimand for his comments that Sri Lankan spinner Muthiah Muralitharan is a chucker.
The Australian Test vice-captain made no statement on Thursday after the decision by ACB commissioner Alan Sullivan to reprimand him, citing a rule preventing him from speaking about the outcomes of disciplinary hearings. The code of behaviour hearing, lasting nearly three-and-a-half hours, was held here with ACB chief executive officer James Sutherland taking part by telephone conference from Melbourne. Sullivan left after two hours, leaving Gilchrist and Sutherland to discuss the decision for another hour. Sutherland admitted the penalty was not severe. "There are a number of penalties on offer," he said. "By my reading of it, it would be at the very low end." The ACB chief said Gilchrist's comments were not regarded as malicious. "The commissioner found that although Adam's comments were made innocently and in good faith, they were also detrimental to the game of cricket. "As administrators we do not enjoy taking action against our own players, particularly against those of Adam's upstanding nature. The ACB recognises Adam's outstanding contribution to the image and success of Australian cricket through his conduct both on and off the field. "However the code of behaviour is in place for a very important reason, its fundamental purpose is to promote the image and credibility of the game of cricket and in this case, particularly in the context of the ACB's relationship with other nations." Gilchrist was charged with making public comments detrimental to the interests of the game after telling a weekend football club function in Melbourne that he believed Muralitharan threw the ball in his bowling action. "Technically, if you read the rules, I think he's probably not quite within them," Gilchrist said at the function. "It's amazing when you do go to the sub-continent and see so many young bowlers in the nets and they all run in and they've all got similar actions. They obviously just do not worry about it." Gilchrist apologised to Muralitharan for his comments but the Sri Lankan manager on the current England tour described the comments as "very disconcerting". The Sri Lankan was called for chucking for the first time by Australian umpires Darrell Hair and Ross Emerson during the 1995-96 tour of Australia. Muralitharan, 30, has taken 412 wickets in 73 Tests. He is likely to overtake record- holder Courtney Walsh (519) of the West Indies and Australian spinner Shane Warne (450) in the next few years. Muralitharan is on tour with his team in England, where another chucking controversy erupted when England batsman Mark Butcher accused Sri Lankan paceman Ruchira Perera of throwing during the opening Test at Lord's last week. Butcher apologised to Perera on Wednesday but is unlikely to escape punishment by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) or the International Cricket Council (ICC). Sri Lanka tour manager Chandra Schaffter reacted angrily to Butcher's comments. "It concerns us very much that there suddenly seems to be remarks of this nature with Mr Gilchrist making some observations about a week ago and now we have Mr Butcher having said something," Schaffter said. "If individuals try to do the work of the umpires then it does become very disconcerting and as I said, coming so soon on the heels of what Mr Gilchrist said, we are very, very concerned. "We hope that the ICC and the home boards will take some very strong actions to stamp out this disease as quickly as possible. The team is becoming a little fed up of this type of thing because it seems to be growing rather than decreasing."
Warne steers clear of Murali 'chuck' controversy