Stand-in Australia captain Michael Clarke denied claims that teammate Phillip Hughes tried 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, who was commentating on television at the time of incident, called close-in fielder Hughes a cheat for claiming a catch off Cook on 99 when TV replays showed the ball had bounced just short of him.
"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. 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 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 call of his innings - both coming off debutant spinner Michael Beer's bowling.
Beer celebrated what he thought was his first Test wicket late on Tuesday 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 Botham' call. "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 the primary beneficiary of UDR system through 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."
Cook again was pillar of resolve 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.