Captain's parents get abusive phone calls January 10, 2008

Ponting wants team to be loved

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting: "It's perception and the way people see things when they're off the field" © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting still believes his team does not need to alter its behaviour, but has admitted he would do some things "a little differently" if he could return to the Test in Sydney. Ponting's parents received abusive phone calls in the fallout from the match and his wife Rhianna was concerned about her husband's job after a newspaper column demanded his sacking.

Australia will analyse footage of the Test, in which they equalled the world record of 16 consecutive wins, to see which areas can be improved. "It's perception and the way people see things when they're off the field," Ponting said in the Daily Telegraph. "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."

Ponting has been backed by Cricket Australia and his team-mates, but there has been severe criticism from former cricketing and sporting greats about the team's attitude. In Sydney there were issues over race, umpiring, sportsmanship, catching, walking and the celebrations when the match was sealed with Michael Clarke's three wickets in an over.

Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, has concerns over the players' behaviour despite them being in "a great cricket team". "I would hate to see them remembered for any reason other than that," he said in the Age. "The team is being criticised, members of the team are being criticised, and they need to be aware of that - they need to respond to that."

Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach and former Australia bowler, said he was disappointed with the way the side played in Sydney. "There's certainly been a lot of feeling from ex-players who think the baggy green has been disrespected," Lawson told Sydney radio 2KY. "Some of these [current] players need to be spoken to.

"Perception is everything and the outside world thinks that this Australian team is arrogant and not well behaved. Whether the team themselves think that is another issue, but I can guarantee you the rest of the cricket world certainly feel that about this cricket team."

Ponting does not believe the team is arrogant. "I don't think anyone wants the way Australia plays cricket to change," he said. "Everyone likes to see a tough, uncompromising brand of cricket ... If we were big headed and arrogant we wouldn't have been celebrating like that. Big headedness doesn't go hand in hand with the sort of euphoria we showed at the end of the game."

Ponting, who was lbw after hitting the ball in the first innings, told the paper there were things "that in hindsight you might do a little differently". "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 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."

He has also set himself a big task to get inside the hearts of all Australians. "What I want is for the Australian cricket team to be the most loved and the most respected sporting side in this country," he said. "That's always been one of my aims and it will continue to be."

Stuart Clark, who believes the arrogance claims come from media sensationalism, said a lot of the reaction had been "over the top". "It seems like it is getting to the point where games will be played in silence," he said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "Most of the talk in the Sydney Test was all pretty light-hearted, anyway, and that has been one of the reasons we have all been taken by a bit of surprise with what's gone on after."