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Test batsman Ricky Ponting was nursing a black eye and promising to seek help for a drinking problem Thursday after a bar-room punch that brought new embarrassment for Australian cricket.
The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) suspended Ponting, once considered a possible captain, leaving him out of Thursday's one day international against Sri Lanka.
Ponting's binge came at the wrong time for the ACB, just a fortnight after revelations that two other star players, batsman Mark Waugh and spinner Shane Warne, had accepted money from an Indian bookmaker.
Instead of playing for Australia in his native Tasmania, Ponting was at home in Launceston treating his black-eye and saying he would seek counselling for a drink problem.
The 24-year-old batsman had a brush with trouble last March when he was fined by the ACB over an incident in a Calcutta nightclub on the tour of India last March.
In the latest incident, Ponting was knocked unconscious in a Sydney bar last Monday. He told reporters on Wednesday he had no recollection of what happened.
``I'm very, very embarrassed about this whole situation and it's certainly something I'm going to work very hard on to make sure it doesn't happen again,'' said Pointing, who has played in 20 Tests and 59 one-day internationals.
``On occasions I've drunk too much and got myself into situations I don't intend to be in, but I've ended up in them,'' he said.
ACB chief executive Mal Speed described Ponting as ``an amazing talent and a great cricketer,'' who had taken his latest setback with dignity after letting himself down very badly.
Speed agreed that Ponting appeared to became aggressive when he had drank too much, but added: ``Let's not overstate the problem, he doesn't drink very often but when he drinks too much he gets into trouble.'' He hoped Ponting had learnt his lesson and would be able to resume his international career.
The board's investigation of the invident should be completed early next week, a charge would be made under the code of conduct and the findings would be announced, Speed promised.
He admitted the ACB had learned from widespread condemnation of its decision not to reveal that it had fined Waugh and Warne after they admitted selling pitch and weather information to an illegal bookmaker in 1995.
Test captain Mark Taylor said he was disappointed in Ponting. ``What you have to realise is when you are in a high-profile position you can't afford to be getting in fights in the early hours of the mornings.''
Asked whether Ponting should be suspended, Taylor said: ``It's a harsh call but the problem is he has been fined once before for a similar incident. The ACB are going to be in a very tough position, they'll be thinking where do we go from here?"
But Taylor said he did not think it was the sort of incident that should end Ponting's career. "It's something he'll have to live with but I'm sure he'll get over it. The best thing now is to go away, learn from it, and come back a better person. We all make mistakes and you don't want it to go on and on, but the fact he's not playing a couple of games and is pending a decision from an inquiry next week I'm pretty sure he won't let it happen again.''