Melbourne: Australian cricket coach Tim Nielsen on Thursday defended Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes over allegations that the pair was found drinking at a Melbourne bar well into the night on the eve of their humiliating Ashes series defeat at the MCG.
"These guys are playing cricket all day, every day. And they're never playing at home. They were out for dinner. All the information we received straight after the incident was that they were out for dinner together and nothing but polite and courteous to the people out in the the public.
"They posed for photographs and signed autographs, they talked about the Test match. I can promise you they wouldn't have been feeling great because we were under pressure in the Test and going to the fourth day looking like the Ashes were going to be lost," Nielsen said.
According to some photographs released by the media Down Under, the duo was spotted drinking at the World Restaurant Bar on the third night of the Melbourne Test, which Australia went on to lose by an innings and 157 runs to help England retain the Ashes on foreign soil for the first time in 24 years.
The pictures had raised some serious questions pertaining to the professionalism and discipline of Aussie cricketers but Nielsen said the photographs of the cricketers showed the two players were well behaved and simply enjoyed drinks with dinner.
"I don''t really mind what anybody says. (But) I can't expect - I won't expect - any of my players to sit in their hotel room for 250 nights of the year, especially if they're having a bad day or a good day," Nielsen was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Nielsen spoke in defence of the players after a 25-year-old local woman, Emily Goodyear, had claimed that the pair drank vodka with her and and told her "it doesn''t matter that we are out, we've lost the match anyway."
"And Philip added, ''I'm not batting and I don't think there's any chance we're going to win.''," she added.
Test vice-captain Michael Clarke had defended himself and his team-mate Hughes by arguing that they have done nothing wrong.
"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 late night at all. We posed for a lot of photos with a lot of people, we were polite to a lot of people and there were even a few of the Barmy Army there.
"I have absolutely no idea what time I got home, but I guarantee you it wasn't late," the 29-year-old Clarke said.