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Ponting insists it was racism, hopes tour will go on

Reuters
Jan 10, 2008 at 08:17pm IST

Sydney: Australia captain Ricky Ponting stands by his decision to report Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh for racial abuse despite triggering a row that threatened the tour.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble had asked Ponting to withdrew the complaint so the teams could resolve the issue themselves but the Australian said he was obliged to tell the on-field umpires.

"I carried out my duties as captain," Ponting told the Nine Network on Thursday. "It's not about me reporting anybody, it's the umpires' job to do that and that's what they did."

NOT IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT: Ricky Ponting celebrates winning the second Test against India in Sydney.

The Australians accused Harbhajan of calling all-rounder Andrew Symonds a monkey during last week's second Test in Sydney. He was found guilty and suspended for three matches but has maintained his innocence and lodged an appeal.

Symonds, the only black player in the Australian team, had been subjected to monkey taunts during his team's tour of India in October and officials warned both teams before the current series to report any repeat incidents.

Ponting said he spoke to Kumble after last Sunday's hearing, explaining why he was obliged to take a stand against racism and asking for understanding.

"When we sat down at the end and I had a really good chat with him and the Indian management and the few other players that were there," Ponting said.

"I said 'look, this is not about us, this is a big issue in the game and I want to move on. When this is done I want us to play the best series we can from here on' - and he agreed with that."

Suspended tour

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) responded to Harbhajan's ban by suspending the tour, although they later agreed to proceed once the International Cricket Council (ICC) had made a number of concessions.

The BCCI has not ruled out canceling the tour should Harbhajan lose his appeal but Ponting said it was important the series continued.

He acknowledged his own players, who have been widely condemned for their on-field conduct, may have behaved poorly at times but said the reaction has been disappointing.

Ponting said his own parents had received abusive phone calls.

Although they did not break any rules, the players have been criticised for over-zealous appealing and standing their ground when they had been caught behind.

"Maybe I should have reacted differently here and Michael Clarke might be saying the same thing," he said."A few of the guys might all be looking at what we've done that last game."

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