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Ponting may be most influential since Bradman: CA chief PDF Print E-mail
© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Feb 8 (IANS) During this summer of discontent, Ricky Ponting may have earned the wrath of many, but Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland feels the World Cup-winning Australian captain may go on to become the most influential Australian cricketer since Don Bradman.

"In my view, he (Ponting) is as good a player as we have ever had, bar Bradman. And, as a leader, he has a great opportunity to stand up and I look forward to seeing him as someone who has influenced the game more than anyone bar Bradman," Sutherland said while speaking at The Australian Club in Melbourne.

After the ugly events on the fifth day of the Sydney Test between India and Australia in early January, eminent cricket writer Peter Roebuck had called for Ponting's head and flayed the Australian team for their on-field conduct. Roebuck wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that the skipper who has "turned a group of professional cricketers into a pack of wild dogs" deserves to be sacked.

"I think he has been unfairly tarnished. His reputation in my mind is stronger than it was previously. It pays to understand his background. He came out of Launceston, basically at the age of 15 and has been a professional cricketer ever since," said Sutherland.

Showering more praise on his captain, the CA CEO said: "He is the sort of leader and captain that players absolutely love to play for. His team mates are in awe of him as a player and as a captain and players would walk out over hot coals. He doesn't walk out ahead of the team, he walks out with the team.

"He is the first to admit they could do better but Test cricket is a very difficult game, played over five days. It is the most difficult test you could get in any elite sport. I know he has taken on board public criticism and wants to step up."

Defending his captain and the team, Sutherland told The Australian newspaper: "We are absolutely supportive of our team and players. They play hard but fair. We don't want our footy teams to play any differently. Why would we want our cricket team to play differently?

"When one wins as often as they do and are as successful as they are you leave yourself open to criticism. Perhaps we expect more of them than we expect of anyone else, which is unfortunate."

Peter Lalor in The Australian wrote that Sutherland felt Harbhajan Singh's breach of the code of conduct hearing was unfortunate and demonstrated problems with the process and that it needs to be reviewed and that he believes the AFL model, in which any complaint goes to mediation as the first step of the process, is a better model.

Harbhajan, who had allegedly called Andrew Symonds a "monkey" in the second Test in Sydney last month, was let off with a 50 percent fine of his Test match fee after the Australians failed to prove the charge. The off-spinner was initially suspended for three Tests by match referee Mike Procter, but on the player's appeal against the punishment a second hearing was held and the penalty was reduced.

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated.
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