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Australian opener Slater told to shut up over Dravid row - by Kuldip Lall

NEW DELHI, March 7 (AFP) - Australia's opening batsman Michael Slater has been warned by the team management to shut up or risk more trouble after going public over a disputed catch in the first Test against India, officials said on Wednesday.

Slater escaped with a warning from International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Cammie Smith for his confrontation with Indian batsman Rahul Dravid and umpire Srinivas Venkatraghavan after his appeal for a low catch was disallowed.

Slater defended his action in an interview with a Sydney radio station on Tuesday, saying the incident had been "totally blown out of proportion."

The New South Wales batsman was warned by the team management that he was prohibited from commenting on ICC rulings.

"Slater has been reminded of the fact that under ICC rules he shouldn't be making any comment," the team's media manager Brian Murgatroyd said.

Murgatroyd added that no action would be taken against the batsman, who is struggling to make runs on the tour.

Slater was criticised by captain Steve Waugh for a verbal assault on Dravid when the batsman did not accept Slater's word that he had taken a low catch in the second innings of the Bombay Test.

Slater was also seen to exchange words with umpire Venkataraghavan after Dravid was declared not out by the third umpire when television replays proved inconclusive.

Match referee Cammie Smith of the West Indies let off Slater with only a warning, saying the cricketer's good disciplinary record in the past prevented a harsher punishment.

"My belief on this Rahul Dravid catch -- and one I did actually take -- is that it has been totally blown out of proportion," Slater told the Sydney radio station.

"It just looks so much worse on the TV than it actually was, and they chose to play it, and play it, and play it and just ham the whole thing up.

"If I had said things in a very harsh manner and been swearing at the umpire or the batsman or whatever, I would have been on report and I would have been fined and all the rest of it, and that didn't happen."

A touring Australian journalist, Mark Ray, said there were major inconsistencies in Slater's defence.

"First, it contradicts post-match comments by captain Steve Waugh, who said the behavior of Slater and other Australian players during the incident was "over the top"," Ray said.

"Second, Slater refused to walk when he appeared to edge a ball in Australia's first innings of the Test. Replays showed that he had hit the ball, but he accepted the umpire's decision, this time in his favor.

"Despite that, Slater objected when Dravid stood his ground to allow the umpires to use video technology to make a much closer decision.

"Third, this is another example of a player criticising the news media for over-dramatising an incident while fulfilling his contract with another media organisation that wanted its pound of flesh," Ray said.

Slater's troubles have been compounded by his poor run with the bat, although he seems certain to play in the second Test in Calcutta from Sunday.

His best in seven innings on the tour is 32 against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai prior to the first Test.

Slater made 10 and 19 in the first Test, which Australia won by 10 wickets on the third day to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

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