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Proteas coach could land in a soup

Mickey Arthur could be in trouble for venting his frustration over the loss of play at Durban.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2006 15:40 IST

South African coach Mickey Arthur could be in trouble for venting his frustration over the loss of play during the third day of the second cricket Test against India here.

According to a match official, umpires Asad Rauf and Ian Howell have taken exception to Arthur's comments in which he virtually blamed them for offering light to the fielding side on the critical third evening of the match on Thursday.

Arthur let out his frustration by making an issue on a number of things: one, that umpires, after they had resumed play once the troublesome power had been restored, went off the field suggesting to home captain Graeme Smith that fielding side could risk injury in gloomy light.

On the third day, at least 36 overs were lost due to bad light. Particularly frustrating was the final session when power failure first held up play for 46 minutes and when the game resumed, only eight balls were bowled before umpires ordered the game to be stopped.

South African coach's other issue was the number of balls which were changed during the day as well the occasions when doctor from the dressing room kept running to the ground to attend to Indian players. He also objected to a particular occasion when a ball-change took almost 20 minutes.

"It is ridiculous to make such a comment. Umpires keep record of ball changes and at no stage 20 minutes were lost because of it -- this is almost equal to losing six overs during the day. That's not true," said the match official on condition of anonymity.

"As for doctors running on to the ground, Arthur has conveniently forgetten that during the first day's play, Ashwell Prince kept receiving medical attention in the final session?"

Arthur said in the press conference that there needed to be a "better control" on how the game was managed on a few issues in the middle and this comment too has got up the nose of match officials. It virtually implied that the game was not being controlled well by the authorities.

Howell indeed made it clear to the press yesterday evening that the decision to come off the field was umpires' and not because it was offered to the fielding side.

It is learnt that an umpire got hold of the footage, beaming Arthur's comments, from an Indian television channel and also showed the "offensive" remarks to match referee Roshan Mahanama.

At the start of the fourth day's play, the particular umpire was scurrying around to have the stuff transferred on a tape to be kept as "evidence" while action could be contemplated against the South African coach.

According to International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, a fact which Arthur feared in the press conference but nevertheless kept going with his tirade, any team member or official can not make a public comment against a particular decision taken on the field. Any step contrary to these clear-cut guidelines could invite censure from the international body.

South Africa, down 1-0 in the series, is desperate to win the ongoing Test to keep their hopes alive for a series win in the final Test at Cape Town on January 2.