Ricky Ponting refuses to blame ‘culture’ for ball-tampering act

The former captain suggests the critique on the culture of the Australian team is unwarranted.

Ricky Ponting felt the sanctions on the three players (Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft) were harsh because the actions were more than just a legal transgression.   -  Shanker Chakravarty

It was coming and everyone knew it. He had been with the Delhi Daredevils for a week now, keeping a firm distance and concentrating only on the team's cricketing activities. So when coach Ricky Ponting finally spoke to the media before the team departed for its Indian Premier League (IPL) opener, the former Australia captain could only grin as he answered questions about the recent ball-tampering incident involving the Australians during the South Africa Test series.

While he backed the sanctions on those involved and sought to reiterate the ‘play hard, play fair’ principle, Ponting also rejected the idea that it was a ‘cultural issue’ and felt it was being blown out of proportion.

“This is the first time I have actually answered a single question about whatever happened in South Africa over the last couple of weeks. As a past player and past captain, I was quite shocked to see what actually took place on the field,” Ponting admitted.

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“If you think it was big news here — it was astronomical — [you can imagine] just how big an issue it was back in Australia and rightly so. We as Australians like to play our game hard, we like to play our game fair and our fans expect us to play that way. The reaction back in Australia was as big as it was because I think the Australian public believed the players had not played the game in a fair way,” he further said.

‘Blown out of proportion’

But that was as far as he would be willing to criticise. “The cultural issue for me is a really interesting thing because if you would wound the clock back just a few months, when we won the Ashes, there was no talk of cultural problems whatsoever. I think sometimes the the cultural thing can be blown out of proportion a lot when the reality in the dressing room is completely different from what is spoken about all the time,” he insisted.

Asked about how he would have reacted to it all, Ponting dismissed it as hypothetical. However, he did feel the sanctions were so harsh because the actions were more than just a legal transgression. “There is a big picture for the world game's sake and Cricket Australia have reacted pretty much what the world game demanded and the Australian public demanded. It would appear that 12-month bans were severe, if you think back on what the ICC sanction was,” he said before Delhi Daredevils’ CEO Hemant Dua interrupted, restricting any further questions on the issue.

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