The decision to allow Matthew Wade to bowl in the first Test against Sri Lanka was one of the few mis-steps Michael Clarke has made as national captain.

And his decision to defend that call is another error in what we hope is not a growing pattern.

The defence of Clarke's decision to allow Wade to bowl the final over before tea is pretty much along the lines of that no harm was done, but given the home side needed until 6.03pm on the final day of the Test to secure their first win of the summer, it was almost an embarrassment for the skipper.

With the new ball just 10 overs old, and Australia still needing six wickets for victory, Clarke threw the ball to Wade, who became the first Australian wicketkeeper since 1983 to bowl an over in Test cricket.

It was grins all around as Phil Hughes took the gloves and Wade rolled the arm over, conceding no runs and securing no wickets. As the players headed off chortling about what they had seen, Sri Lanka had seen off another over and were closer to rescuing the match.

The objection to Wade being afforded this opportunity is that it can be seen both as disrespectful to the opposition and to the elite version of the game.

Sri Lanka were battling to stay in the match and were put in a situation where they were playing a bowler who has never claimed a wicket at any decent level in his life.

Perhaps the 'razzle dazzle' of T20 cricket has crept into Clarke's thinking, and while it set tongues wagging, was it within the spirit of the game?

Wade revealed on Thursday that he felt it was a novelty, but Clarke, in an ill-advised move, not only defended the decision but said Wade could be considered for duties again in the future.

In the past 100 years of Test cricket, wicketkeepers have bowled approximately 118 overs and taken a grand total of six wickets. Despite Clarke saying he doesn't care who gets the wickets, it was not a high percentage play.

Even less credible is Clarke's assertion that tail-enders make plenty of runs with the bat, so why shouldn't non-bowlers contribute with the ball?

Tail-enders have to bat, Matthew Wade did not have to bowl.

Clarke also opted for an experiment which, given the series of fitness issues which have flared among Australia's batsmen and bowlers, himself included, could have jeopardised the fitness of the country's best wicketkeeper.

It is, of course, Clarke's right to decide who gets to bowl, but it also his responsibility to ensure the dignity of the baggy green and the dignity of the game remains intact.


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