Coach defends Clarke, Hughes after drinking allegations

Melbourne, Jan 20 (PTI) Australian cricket coach TimNielsen today defended Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes overallegations that the pair was found drinking at a Melbournebar well into the night on the eve of their humiliating Ashesseries defeat at the MCG.

"These guys are playing cricket all day, every day. Andthey''re never playing at home. They were out for dinner. Allthe information we received straight after the incident wasthat they were out for dinner together and nothing but politeand courteous to the people out in the the public.

"They posed for photographs and signed autographs, theytalked about the Test match. I can promise you they wouldn''thave been feeling great because we were under pressure in theTest and going to the fourth day looking like the Ashes weregoing to be lost," Nielsen said.

According to some photographs released by the media DownUnder, the duo was spotted drinking at the World RestaurantBar on the third night of the Melbourne Test, which Australiawent on to lose by an innings and 157 runs to help Englandretain the Ashes on foreign soil for the first time in 24years.

The pictures had raised some serious questions pertainingto the professionalism and discipline of Aussie cricketers butNielsen said the photographs of the cricketers showed the twoplayers were well behaved and simply enjoyed drinks withdinner.

"I don''t really mind what anybody says. (But) I can''texpect - I won''t expect - any of my players to sit in theirhotel room for 250 nights of the year, especially if they''rehaving a bad day or a good day," Nielsen was quoted as sayingby the ''Sydney Morning Herald''.

Nielsen spoke in defence of the players after a25-year-old local woman, Emily Goodyear, had claimed that thepair drank vodka with her and and told her "it doesn''t matterthat we are out, we''ve lost the match anyway."

"And Philip added, ''I''m not batting and I don''t thinkthere''s any chance we''re going to win.''," she added.

Test vice-captain Michael Clarke had defended himself andhis team-mate Hughes by arguing that they have done nothingwrong.

"There''s no doubt Phillip and I went to a restaurant bar,we had dinner there, I had two drinks and didn''t have a latenight at all. We posed for a lot of photos with a lot ofpeople, we were polite to a lot of people and there were evena few of the Barmy Army there.

"I have absolutely no idea what time I got home, but Iguarantee you it wasn''t late," the 29-year-old Clarke said.

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