Ponting warns Aussie fans not to retaliate in race row
SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting returned home from a tour of India marred by racial abuse with a warning to home fans not to retaliate when India visit in December.
Ponting said while some Indian players would likely be given a “hard time” by fans when they played Down Under, he hoped this would not include racial taunts such as those endured by Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds in India.
Symonds, the only black player on the team, was subjected to monkey gestures during the last game of a seven-match one-day series in Mumbai last Wednesday after earlier receiving similar abuse during the fourth game at Vadodara.
Ponting, whose team won the Indian one-day series 4-2 before losing a one-off Twenty20 match, urged Australian fans to treat the subcontinental team as they would any other touring side.
“I don’t think they should be treated any differently because of what’s happened over there,” he said.
“As far as I’m concerned, this whole racism stuff is completely unacceptable in any walk of life, let alone on a sporting field.”
Ponting said nobody from the Indian team had spoken to him about the taunts, adding that they should be embarrassed by the crowd’s attitude towards Symonds.
“I imagine they would be. They should be. I would be, in Australia,” he said.
Australian cricket crowds do not have a lily-white reputation, with racial slurs and chants directed at some of the South African team in previous years.
The Australian skipper singled out paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who has been involved in on-field verbal clashes with Symonds, as one likely target.
“I’m sure that at different times Sreesanth and a few of the guys will cop a hard time from the Australian fans,” Ponting told reporters in Sydney.
“That will generally happen at some stage to most teams that tour here, but I just hope — I’ll keep my fingers crossed — there’s no racial stuff (that) comes up at all through the summer.”
Australia and India play four Tests and one Twenty20 game during the summer tour which begins in December in Melbourne.
Both will also take part in a triangular one-day series with Sri Lanka and there are fears that champion spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan could be baited by crowds as he seeks to break Australian Shane Warne’s wicket-taking record.
Muralitharan has endured a turbulent relationship with Australian crowds since he was no-balled for throwing in Melbourne in 1995 and refused to tour in 2004.
He now needs just nine wickets to break the recently retired Warne’s record.
But Warne said Muralitharan, who was welcomed as a champion when he returned to play in Australia in a tsunami appeal match in 2005, would be well received.
“Australian crowds are pretty good, I remember Jacques Kallis scored 100 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the crowd stood up and clapped him,” Warne told reporters.
“There’s a lot of good sportsmanship with the Australian public.”
Warne also backed his long-time understudy, Stuart MacGill, for inclusion in the Test team as selectors prepare to name the players for the first Test against Sri Lanka starting on November 8.
“He’s been around for a long time and deserves his chance,” Warne said.
Australia’s pace line-up is also not sewn up, with Ponting backing Mitchell Johnson after his performance in India where he topped the averages with 14 wickets at 18.57.
“He’s done everything right as far as putting his name up in front of the selectors,” Ponting said. “It’s going to be an interesting selection.”