Batsman fined after nightclub brawl January 21, 1999

Disgraced Ponting to seek drink counselling

Richard Bright in Hobart

Ricky Ponting, dropped from Australia's limited overs team yesterday after being knocked unconscious at a nightclub in Sydney's red light district, is to undergo counselling for a drink problem.

Ponting, sporting a blackened left eye, said he could not recall the incident, which occurred in the early hours of Monday following Australia's day-night match with England at the SCG.

"I have to admit to myself that I have a problem with alcohol at times and I intend to overcome this problem," he said. "It's just that on occasions I drink too much and get myself into situations I don't intend to be in. I'm very embarrassed."

The Tasmanian had been due to play in Australia's latest match of the triangular one-day series, against Sri Lanka in Hobart, starting last night, but has been stood down until the Australian Cricket Board investigate the incident.

Ponting, 24, addressing a news conference in Hobart, spoke quietly and did not dodge questions. He said he went to the Bourbon and Beefsteak club in the suburb of Kings Cross with a couple of people he had met through the night. No other Australian players were involved.

As far as he could remember, "everything was fine" at the club. He could not recall anyone being aggressive and did not know who had hit him. The next thing he could remember was being in his room at the team hotel at The Rocks. He did not know how he had got back.

ACB chief executive Mal Speed said he expected Ponting would be charged with breaching the ACB's code of conduct for staying out past the team's 1.30am curfew.

Ponting, who admitted he had "overstepped the mark a couple of times now" said he would seek counselling and promised to come back "squeaky clean".

This is the latest in a series of incidents involving Ponting that have overshadowed his on-the-field feats. A dashing top-order batsman and brilliant fielder, Ponting made his Test debut in 1995 but has not lived up to early promise and has been dropped from the Test team on four occasions.

He was recalled for the Ashes series against England, only to be axed after the first three Tests, having scored 47 runs at an average of 11.75.

Ponting's first run-in with officialdom occurred during last year's tour of India when he was fined for his part in a scuffle inside a Calcutta disco. A month later, he was fined after an on-field confrontation with Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Ponting added: "I feel I have let a lot of people down, particularly my team-mates and family and Tasmanian and Australian cricket."