Cricket Australia (CA) threw its weight behind Ricky Ponting and his team-mates against accusations of unsporting behaviour and said sparks are bound to fly when the game is Test cricket and not "tiddlywinks".
CA chief executive James Sutherland looked unperturbed by the barrage of criticism that has been hurled at Ricky Ponting and his team-mates for their behaviour during the Sydney Test against India. At the post-match press conference, Anil Kumble, India's captain, pointedly remarked, "Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game."
According to Sutherland, Ponting and his men might have mouthed a word or two in the heat of the moment but they never overstepped the line. "Test cricket is what is being played here. It's not tiddlywinks," said Sutherland, asserting Australia always played the game hard but fair.
"It's a tough game and out there from time to time emotions will bubble over and perhaps some of the words that are said will not be acceptable in genteel company. But they are said and that is what happens.
"The Australian cricket team plays the game tough, tough and uncompromising. It's the way Australian cricket teams have played the game since 1877 under all sorts of different captains. That is the way Australians have expected their teams to play."
Sutherland said Australia had improved their behaviour since 2003 when then captain Steve Waugh introduced a spirit of cricket pledge to curb on-field sledging. "The Australian cricket team will be the very first to admit that they are not perfect. They don't get it right all of the time. But they get it right a lot more now then they used to."
However, Sutherland said he expected Ponting to hold peace talks with the Indian team. "A number of days ago he made the offer to Anil Kumble for them to get together and talk through any differences of opinions and reconcile any differences that might be existing between the two captains and the two teams," Sutherland said. "I am very confident that that will happen."