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Jan 08, 2008 at 08:30am IST

'Sack Ponting', Oz media back Team India

Sydney/New Delhi: One of world’s most noted cricket writer Peter Roebuck has demanded that Ricky Ponting should be sacked as skipper in his scathing article in an Australian newspaper.

"Ricky Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team. If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players over the past few days. Beyond comparison it was the ugliest performance put up by an Australian side for 20 years," Roebuck wrote in his column for Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian team is the world champion and has some of the best players in its ranks. It is also regarded as a team that has changed the dynamics of the game.

When they are winning they are aggressive, attacking and cocky. They believe in winning by hook or sometimes by crook.

On the final day of the Sydney Test on Sunday, Ponting appealed against Mahendra Singh Dhoni even though the Australian skipper had clearly grounded the ball. And his reaction at the press conference where he was asked if he was sure that he had caught the ball cleanly was even more scathing.

"Sorry I think you have got something wrong. There's no way that I would have grounded that ball and I think if you are actually questioning my integrity in the game, you should not be standing here. What I did in the first innings doesn't that explain the way I play the game. Well okay I am 100 per cent sure of that catch of Dhoni today. As it turned out wasn't that given not out. Am I right or wrong?" Ponting had replied angrily.

After the Sydney Test, their sportsmanship has been put under the scanner.

Earlier, after winning the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, some Australian players pushed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sharad Pawar off the stage. Even the Australian media has now come out in the open to criticise the baggy greens.

Even a record-equalling 16th consecutive Test win couldn't overweigh the ugly side of what the Sydney match bought in the New Year.

However, in his column in a newspaper Ponting has been quoted as saying, " There is absolutely no place for racism in sport or in society generally. I had nothing to gain from taking this action. It is surprising and disappointing to hear Anil Kumble suggest that we did not play within that spirit in Sydney."

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But former Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram said, "Australian players had behaved like cry babies by whingeing about racism when they had been world cricket's worst sledgers."

And Roebuck is not the only Australian who has commented on the crisis in his column.

Newspapers in Australian have been conducting polls to gauge the mood of their readers and the responses have been polls apart.

Of those who participated in the Sydney Herald Poll only 11 per cent feel Harbhajan did not make a racist comment.

25 per cent voted that it is a racist slur and Harbhajan's suspension is justified.

On the other hand, 40 per cent feel Australians can sledge but can't take it.

And eight per cent voted that he shouldn't have said it but shouldn't have been suspended either.

Lastly, while16 per cent felt the comment was wrong, they also believe Ponting overreacted.

In the poll conducted by the Herald Sun 83 per cent readers believe India got a raw deal from the umpires and only 17 per cent feel Bucknor did a fair job.

The Daily Telegraph asked its readers whether the three-match ban was too severe. Sixty nine per cent felt it was while 31 per cent believe it is justified.

(With inputs from Gaurav Kalra and Amit Bose)

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