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Ponting promises to clean up the act


Wants the team to be the most loved one in his country

Ponting’s parents forced to change phone number


Melbourne: Rattled by the scathing criticism of the Australian cricket team’s abrasive behaviour, skipper Ricky Ponting on Thursday promised to ensure that his World champion side’s conduct is not seen to be arrogant in future matches.

Ponting said he would view the highlights of the controversial Sydney Test against India to analyse the home team’s behaviour.

“I think it’s important that we sit back and look at that footage. Look at our body language. See if there are areas that we can improve on,” Ponting, who till recently strongly defended his team’s behaviour, said.

“We’ll look at some of the footage, its perception and the way people see things when they’re off the field,” Ponting was quoted as saying by Herald Sun.

Australia won the ill-tempered match by 122 runs to record its 16th straight Test win but far from being celebrated, the victory was heavily criticised by former players, fans and the media, who lambasted the team’s “win at all costs” attitude.

“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,” he explained.

Shocked

Ponting said the criticism had left him shocked as his side had never intended to be seen as too aggressive.

“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 to go along with being great cricketers,” he added.

Ponting said since taking over captaincy, he had made every effort to make his team look friendly and well-behaved.

“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,” he said.

Looking back at the acrimonious week that was marred by a three-Test ban on Harbhajan Singh for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds, Ponting said he first realised the gravity of the situation when his wife Rianna called up to check whether he still had his job.

“’Have you seen the papers?’ she asked and said ‘is everything ok with your job?’. She was a bit worried and a bit shaken. I said everything will be ok,” he added.

Some regrets

On his own behaviour during the match, Ponting said he regretted a few instances like standing 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. And it probably didn’t help that I was shown throwing my bat when I got back to the rooms,” he said.

Abusive phone calls

Meanwhile, Ponting claimed his parents received abusive phone calls in the wake of the Sydney Test.

Ponting said his parents were forced to change their phone number following the anonymous calls criticising the captain. “There were a few people who rang in the past few days, having a dig,” Ponting was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. — PTI

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