Channel Nine defends Clarke's role as commentator

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Sydney, Jan 2: Australian broadcaster Channel Nine has dismissed the criticism of injured Australian skipper Michael Clarke turning commentator for the third and fourth Tests against India, terming the negativity as "petty".

India-Australia series schedule

Clarke sought permission from Cricket Australia to commentate during the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne and the fourth Test at Sydney, beginning January 6 as he recovers from hamstring surgery and bids to be fit for the World Cup.

File photo of Michael Clarke

Questions were raised whether he should be commentating on players while remaining the Australian captain, with critics harping on the appropriateness of the move. They suggested it would be unethical for Clarke to voice his reactions and comments that could put undue pressure on stand-in captain Steven Smith.

"Why shouldn't he commentate?" Brad McNamara, the channel's director of cricket, was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald Friday.

"Every day he does a press conference and he's asked similar questions. As part of his role as Australian captain when he's playing he's basically asked for comment on a day-by-day basis. We don't see the difference, to be honest."

McNamara said that the channel would be careful not to put Clarke into an uncomfortable position by asking him uneasy questions.

"Obviously, we were reasonably careful not to put him a position with anything that was too controversial, not that I think he would have backed down from that," he said.

"I think people love hearing people speaking honestly and being forthright, and saying what they think, rather than what you think they want to hear. That was the refreshing thing - about all our commentators, but especially Michael. I see that criticism quite frankly as petty and more tall poppy syndrome."

Clarke received praise for his on-air efforts with McNamara saying he was perfectly suited for the role.

"It's not an easy thing to walk straight into, like anything it takes a while to learn the ropes and to get used to it. From what we've seen so far, he's a perfect fit," McNamara said.

"He's very good at it, but I think if you asked Michael he's got a fair bit of unfinished business on the field, so it's probably a fair way off until we get to that situation. If it's something he wants to pursue and likes and we're in a position to get him involved I'm sure it wouldn't take much to get that happening."

IANS

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