PETER Siddle launched a heroic all-out attack to bowl Australia to its first Test victory of the summer then gave an equally impassioned defence of his character after being embroiled in ball-tampering allegations on Tuesday.
On a dramatic afternoon where Australia drew first blood in the battle for the Warne-Muralidaran Trophy, headlines were being generated on and off the field after the Sri Lankans made an informal complaint over two alleged incidents of ball-tampering,
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Siddle in ball-tampering claim
Sri Lankan media have accused Peter Siddle of picking at the seam of the ball after an image allegedly taken from the first match in Hobart surfaced on social media.
Umpires cleared Siddle and Ed Cowan of any wrongdoing on Tuesday night after they "found no evidence to suggest that the condition of the ball had been changed", match referee Chris Broad said in a statement.
But it is understood Broad has asked Channel Nine to send footage to the ICC, which has 24 hours after the completion of the game to lay charges, though it is considered unlikely further action will be taken.
The fiasco has lit the fuse for a potentially fiery Boxing Day Test at the MCG 17 years after champion off-spinner Muthiah Muralidaran was called for chucking by umpire Darrell Hair at the venue.
The drama started on Sunday after Sri Lanka's team manager Charith Senanayake made an unofficial complaint over two incidents during his team's first innings.
The first involved Siddle late on Saturday. Pictures of this incident were circulated on social media on Tuesday. The other allegation centred on Cowan in the 88th over of the innings, on Sunday.
"I wake up in the morning, I thought today if I ran out there and ball tampered in front of 15 cameras and a lot of people watching the game I will get away with it – that is a ridiculous statement," Siddle said sarcastically after returning match figures of 9-104.
"Why would I want to jeopardise that, when I know we can go out there and do everything in the spirit of the game and win? That's how we play and we always play. There's nothing to it at all.
"There's a picture going around on Twitter, but on Twitter you can say what you want and there's no consequences. If you took a picture of every time I turn around and run into bowl, it will look exactly like that same picture.
"If you watch a video of it, you would see me turning around the ball and running in, but if you take a snap of a still picture you can make anything look unreal."
Broad alerted Mickey Arthur and Sri Lankan team management of his investigations during tea on Sunday, though the Australian XI was not made aware of the drama by their coach.
"The ICC have made it very clear there was nothing there," Australian captain Michael Clarke said. "I 100-per-cent believe we always play in the spirit of the game. I don't think any of the Australian players would ever jeopardise that or do anything to ruin our reputation.
"We play hard on the field but we understand there is a line you can't cross and we play the right way."
Although Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene tried to defuse the situation at his post-match media conference, Senanayake had earlier told Fairfax Media the Sri Lankans believed the Australians' actions had been "illegal".
"What you should write in the paper is if someone commits a crime it is up to the authorities to arrest the culprit," Senanayake said.
"We saw something on TV which we brought up to the match referee, that's it. We saw something which we thought was illegal and which has been brought to the notice of the authorities."
Jayawardene said no official complaint had been made "because we don't have any proof" but defended the team's decision to speak to Broad over the matter.
"For the TV guys to zoom in, obviously they saw something funny," Jayawardene said. "It's up to the officials to find out from the TV guys whether there was something funny happening, and is that the reason they're showing it?
"We don't have any proof, we didn't see, so we can't make any official complaint so we'll move on from it."
Broad said: "In the opinion of the umpires, there was no evidence to suggest that the condition of the ball was changed, or that the video or photographic evidence would support a charge under the Code of Conduct, so they will not be laying any charges relating to these incidents."