Ponting regret over Test furore
IT seemed the perfect Tuesday morning for Ricky Ponting - until the call came to tell him the cricket world was burning and a growing mob was baying for him to be sacked as Australia captain.
Ponting was on the golf course for a charity game. The weather was sparkling, as was his form. Then his wife Rianna rang to tell him that chaos reigned.
"Have you seen the papers?" she asked. Ponting hadn't. "Is everything OK with your job?"
There were calls for Ponting to be dismissed along with several other leading members of the team. India's tour of Australia was in jeopardy. Effigies of Ponting had been burned in the streets of India.
"She was a bit worried and a bit shaken," Ponting said. "I said, 'Everything will be OK'."
Ponting spoke soon after with Cricket Australia chief executive Sutherland and was told he had the full support of the country's governing body.
However, as the fallout from one of the biggest crises in international cricket continued - even Ponting's parents have been forced to change their home telephone number after receiving abusive and threatening calls - the Australia skipper conceded there were elements of his side's performance in the second Test "that in hindsight you might do a little differently".
He pointed to his own actions, saying he had stood too long at the crease after being given out leg before in the first innings.
"There's no doubt I stood there for a second or two too long and I shouldn't have done that," he said.
"It probably didn't help that I was shown throwing my bat when I got back to the rooms.
"Some of the guys mightn't have shaken (India skipper Anil) Kumble's hand after the game but we were so wrapped up with the end of the game that they were already off the field.
"We all walked along when it was over and shook their hands."
Ponting said that when Australia meet in Perth on Sunday morning for their first briefing in the lead up to the Third Test, he would raise the Spirit of Cricket agreement that all Australia players have agreed to abide by and remind the team of its obligations as professionals on and off the field.
But he has denied accusations from leading former cricketers and sporting figures that the current team is arrogant and needs to soften its win-at-all-costs attitude.
"I don't think anyone wants the way Australia play cricket to change. Everyone likes to see a tough, uncompromising brand of cricket," he said.
"But if there are areas in our game to improve then obviously we need to address that."
One of the criticisms levelled at Australia was that their on-field celebration at the end of the game was excessive and arrogant.
"I've thought about this. If we were big-headed and arrogant we wouldn't have been celebrating like that," he said.
"Big headedness doesn't go hand in hand with the sort of euphoria we showed at the end of the game.
"I think we can all look back at that last Test and realise there were some little areas in that game that, if we had our time over, we might have done slightly differently."
Ponting will replay to his team television highlights of several key scenes from the second Test.
"We'll look at some of the footage. Its perception and the way people see things when they're off the field. I might be talking to opposition players on the field but it might be construed by people watching on television that you're in a slanging or sledging match when that's not the case.
"I think its important that we sit back and look at that footage. Look at our body language. See if there are areas we can improve on."
Ponting was dumbfounded at some of the reaction since the finish to the second Test, which Australia won by capturing three late wickets with minutes to spare to seize their 16th consecutive Test victory.
"What I want is for the Australian cricket team to be the most loved and the most respected sporting side in this country. That's always been one of my aims and it will continue to be," he said.
"One thing I've been conscious of over the last five years I've been captain is that this team is going to be recognised as one of the all-time great Australian cricket teams.
"But what I've also been conscious of is making sure the guys are remembered as being good people as well as great cricketers.
"In the last two or three seasons especially we've actually started to change the perception, the way in which the public see us. There have been less (players reported). We're ultra conscious of how we play the game and the spirit of cricket which we all signed on to."
West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor was replaced on Tuesday after pressure from India's governing cricketing body, while an appeal over the three-match suspension given to spinner Harbhajan Singh for calling Andrew Symonds a "monkey" has been deferred until after the Perth Test.
This has gone way too far just over a game
Last edited by Punter; 10th January 2008 at 04:44.